Killer doll films have been around for a long time now. We’ve seen the serious side with films like the recent Annabelle and we’ve seen the more comical side with the likes of Charles Band’s wonderful creation, the Puppet Master series, among others. It amazes me that filmmakers still venture into this realm from time to time, but when done right, the payoff can be huge. That, my friends, is what we have here with William Brent Bell’s latest project, The Boy.
Greta (Lauren Cohan, “The Walking Dead”) has taken a nanny job in the British countryside. When she goes to meet the family, however, she learns that this is no ordinary babysitting gig. Greta is chosen, and paid very generously, to be the caregiver of a doll. As she spends more and more time in the secluded house with ‘Brahms,’ Greta begins to experience unexplainable occurrences, causing her to believe that perhaps there really is more to the doll than meets the eye.
Speaking candidly, I was actually quite nervous going into The Boy. I wanted so much to enjoy the film, but I have been duped many times before with these Hollywood horror films, expecting greatness only to be disappointed. Fortunately for me, this is not one of those cases. While the film starts out as expected — a suspenseful and tense story of a creepy doll — it managed to keep my attention, until it morphed into something so much more.
Featuring a small, intimate cast, The Boy contains great performances on all parts. Lauren Cohen, who ironically enough is an English actor playing an American in a UK setting, does wonderfully as the film’s lead role. It was nice to see the “The Walking Dead” star doing something other than protecting herself and others from legions of the un-dead. She is joined on screen by Rupert Evans (The Canal), who also does a fantastic job in his role as the sly grocery delivery man for the odd Heelshire family. The two feed off of each other quite well, making the development on their on-screen relationship much more believable and authentic.
It takes more than a great cast to save a film from negative reviews. Luckily, The Boy had everything it needed to do so from yours truly. Being on foreign soil is a frightening enough ordeal. Add to that a dark and desolate castle in the countryside, far from anyone other than the charming bread boy, and you have a flawless formula for keeping your audience on edge. Director William Brent Bell and his crew do an amazing job making that setting even more unsettling with brilliant lighting and cinematography, playing with everyone’s imagination the entire time.
The Boy is not just another Dead Silence, Child’s Play, or Dolly Dearest. Bell’s film may start off as another predictable ‘killer doll’ flick, but by the third act, it decides to flip the script completely, turning the film on its head. Everything from the pacing to the overall tone of the film does a complete 180, and I absolutely loved it.
While others may have disliked Bell’s previous work with The Devil Inside, I still highly suggest giving this one a fair chance. It will be a complete surprise, one that I hope you will enjoy as much as I did. Bell has proven that he has a real knack for modern-day horror by taking a tired formula and mixing in some new twists and turns along the way. The film even contains a bunch of similarities and nods to a few horror classics of the past, ones that I regrettably cannot even name, in fear of spoiling the final act.
The Boy turned out to be totally different from what I was expecting and I couldn’t be happier with the final result. It has a great script with effective storytelling and character development, a perfectly unnerving setting, and one of my favorite twist endings in a long while. I recommend it to everyone, especially those thinking they know exactly what they are getting with this film. Trust me, you don’t!
You can pick up a copy on DVD and Blu-ray now from Universal Pictures Entertainment.
I give this one 4.5 lists of rules out of 5.