“The Boy” Movie Review


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     You have to wonder how it is some of the movies we see released in multiplexes these days are actually green lit and ultimately made.  Perhaps the production companies behind “The Boy” saw something clever within first time scribe Stacey Menear’s script, but whatever that was seems to be lost in director William Brent Bell’s vision on screen.  Starring Lauren Cohan (Maggie from “The Walking Dead”), “The Boy” successfully reaches all new heights in horror film silliness, while borrowing from practically every classic within the genre in what borders to the point of being a rip off.  The plot itself is so utterly bizarre, that it becomes mostly laughable within the first fifteen minutes and seemingly goes down hill from there.  And while the filmmakers try desperately to push the actors into a suitable level of seriousness, at any given time I half expected a character played by Marlon Wayans to pop out all of the sudden and ask these people “Are you for real?”

     I say that because the premise would have you believe a young American woman, who lives in Montana, has somehow found a job as a nanny in England for a couple planning an extended vacation and is in need of someone to look after their 8 year old son.  When we meet Greta (Cohan), looking the part of a sultry, yet scarred country girl, she is arriving at a sprawling mansion in the British countryside which has the look and appearance of, well, practically every spooky home in nearly every horror film before it.  Whether the comparison be made to Norma/Norman’s house in “Psycho” or more recently, Allerdale Hale from Guillermo del Toro’s 2015 fright fest “Crimson Peak”, take your pick.  And because we’ve been in these homes before, serving as the prime setting for various scary goings on, this also means the doors must squeak as they open and shut, the home itself will be devoid of natural light, remaining poorly lit by candles even though the story takes place in present day, and last but not least, there are strange noises emanating from outside every closed door as our lead character is inevitably quoting Eddie Murphy’s famous “That’s peculiar.” line referring to white people’s clueless response to an obviously haunted house.

     Greta is greeted by the elderly couple after she is led into the home by the driver who brought her there and politely takes off her shoes.  As played by Jim Norton and Diana Hardcastle, Mr. and Mrs. Heelshire have that kind of deadpan strangeness that the grandparents had in M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Visit”, and no doubt this duo is just as mentally unstable.  They speak of their 8 year old son, Brahms, just as you would expect any mother and father, except it’s immediately notable that the Heelshire’s age would be more in line with that of grandparents, rather than parents.  They lead Greta to Brahms’ room upstairs, instructing her on the various duties expected in caring for him, when suddenly Greta inadvertently chuckles.  Why you ask?  Because Brahms is a life sized doll, of which the Heelshire’s not only care for by feeding him, changing his clothes, and kissing him goodnight, but have gone to great lengths   with an apparent worldwide search to acquire a nanny all the way from Montana!

     Thankfully, the script allows for another character to enter the mix in the form of a grocery delivery boy named Malcolm (Rupert Evans), who functions as both a potential love interest for Greta, as well as the guy who will fill us in on all of this nonsense.  Apparently, the real Brahms died in a tragic house fire some 20 years before, and the terrible grief suffered by the Heelshire’s has led to them continuing on raising their son in doll form.  With the couple now taking their first vacation since his death, they are trusting Greta, a person of whom we learn is running from a few problems of her own, to complete a strict list of chores involving Brahms each and every day until they return, which is never specified.  Of course after they leave, Greta begins her stay in much the same way the audience was already thinking.  She throws a blanket over the doll, commenting on how creepy he is, which brings forth another question.  Why is it that the characters in all of these demon doll movies own such ugly looking collectibles in the first place?  I mean, who would own that clown in “Poltergeist”,  or the Good Guy Doll in “Child’s Play”, or that dastardly thing in “Annabelle”?  Seems to me these people are just asking for it!

     As the proceedings move on, Bell lays on the horror movie cliches like a thick sludge, peppering every scene with the typical jump scares and fateful decision making that allows whatever evil is in the house to have its way with our poor female victim.  Some of this gets so absolutely silly, that at one point Greta endures an entire action sequence, that includes climbing a ladder into the attic, while only wearing a towel as she had just exited the shower when she realizes her clothes have gone missing.  Sadly, the towel never falls off.  And when this all leads to a conclusion stolen directly from the “Halloween” films, we come to realize the filmmakers may have thought they had came up with an original premise, but failed to invent an ending that sets itself apart from every slasher movie before it.  No doubt the Wayans Brothers have found their fodder for the next installment in the “Scary Movie” franchise if they so choose, as “The Boy” offers little more than unintentional laughs all the way through its sequel teasing end.  GRADE: D-