The Boy, 2016.
Directed by William Brent Bell.
Starring Lauren Cohan, Rupert Evans, Jim Norton, Diana Hardcastle, and Ben Robson.
An American nanny is shocked that her new English family’s boy is actually a life-sized doll. After violating a list of strict rules, disturbing events make her believe that the doll is really alive.
From the director of The Devil Inside (one of the worst movies of 2012) comes The Boy, sure to be one of the worst movies of 2016 when all is said and done. It never once makes its premise anything less than ridiculous, ensuring that you are only laughing at it, instead of being compelled by the mystery surrounding the porcelain child doll.
From the very beginning, the shockingly bad script forces upon Greta (The Walking Dead‘s Lauren Cohan) an onslaught of illogical reasons for her to stick around the gothic residence located in an isolated English village, to stay as a nanny looking after the titular boy, named Brahms, who is really just a ghost-pale doll with an awful hairdo; basically he doesn’t even look scary. The parents of the child/doll even go through this little job evaluation, treating the situation as if everything is perfectly normal behavior. It’s like watching idiosyncratic characters act bizarre with no charisma or rationality to their dialogue. They just exist to leave the home for a months so we have one-on-one shenanigans between our couple. There’s also a mail delivery man that to the surprise of no one becomes a love interest.
The problem with The Boy isn’t so much that Greta doesn’t laugh off these freaks to go right home then and there, because it’s understandable that she could use the money and some time away from her stalker ex-boyfriend that we slowly learn details about, but when spooky stuff starts happening like objects disappearing and attic doors closing by themselves as if the doll or house does indeed host some malevolent spiritual being, she still doesn’t tuck tail and run. There is absolutely nothing stopping her from leaving other than the plot saying that she needs time away from America.
To Lauren Cohan’s credit, she does a good job in the role, developing her character from confused, to terrified, and realizing that whatever this ghost is, all it really wants is genuine affection. The scene in particular where she comes to this realization is handled with some superbly expressed laughter that elicits all three emotions. Also, this isn’t really a spoiler, because most of the plot actually centers on figuring out why and how this young boy got trapped inside a doll.
It’s just never interesting though, meaning that even when there are some well-trained shots of Greta exploring the house while things are going bump in the night, your mind actually just wanders off into space. It also doesn’t help that there’s usually a jump-scare right around the corner, or that you are usually watching a dream sequence. Seriously, The Boy severely overdoes that aspect to the point where you just automatically start assuming everything is a quick nightmare played for cheap jolts.
Finally, there’s a big twist towards the end that while somewhat unexpected, is so bafflingly stupid, it becomes impossible to take the movie seriously on any level, but then again, that was already never possible. Basically, everything just gets taken to a whole new level of stupid. The Boy essentially becomes a terrible slasher film in its climactic moments with no redeemable qualities; even worse is how aesthetically horrid everything looks. If you weren’t laughing at the movie already, you’ll be howling in the last 20 minutes.
You also certainly won’t care about any of the characters considering that all of them could have just dipped at any time. The most accurate comparison of The Boy is a really bad ripoff of other films that just comes across as a bad episode of Scooby-Doo. There is some mystery to be found, and actors at the very least trying to create something good out of the nothing they have been given (again, Lauren Cohan is surprisingly decent acting alongside a porcelain doll), but the indisputable disaster of the story just ruins and squanders any semblance of entertainment value.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ / Movie: ★