Friday, March 11, 2016

Review: The Boy

Starring: Lauren Cohan, Rupert Evans, James Russell
Directed by: William Brent Bell
Language: English
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hr 37 min

January is usually reserved for the worst of the worst of horror movies in theaters. They usually have silly visuals and a predictable storyline that doesn't contribute to the genre at all. It's full of the usual thrills (read as jumpscares) that the younger generation looks forward to and I normally skip out on it. The Boy became the exception.

Greta is a young American woman who takes a job as a nanny in a remote English village, only to discover that the family's 8-year-old is a life-sized doll that the parents care for just like a real boy, as a way to cope with the death of their actual son 20 years prior. After violating a list of strict rules, a series of disturbing and inexplicable events bring Greta's worst nightmare to life, leading her to believe that the doll is actually alive. [Source: IMDb]

Knowing what I know about January horror movies, why did I bother seeing this one? Two reasons: Lauren Cohan and the story actually seemed interesting. Yes, we already had a doll movie in the past year and we can't forget about the iconic villain of the Child's Play franchise. So, what makes this movie different from those two. Well, both Annabelle and Chucky were possessed. Sure, in different ways, but in short, possessed. The Boy is something different. Something unexplainable until the final act. Don't worry, I won't give anything away. Now, the premise of this movie isn't something unbelievable at all, which may be a tiny bit scary. Some might have heard of real dolls from shows like Wife Swap or My Strange Addiction (or some sort of spin-off show to that). The owners of these real dolls are usually older couples (usually the wife) that have children who are currently adults and want a "child" to take care of. Knowing real life information like that and seeing these elderly people taking their doll son so seriously made me want to invest in this hour and a half experience. I must admit Brahms definitely was creepy. Similar to Annabelle (sometimes), the creepyness of Brahms was the fact that he didn't do anything but just be a doll. Something about him seemed off, before Greta thought the doll could move and whatnot. I'll admit that I made some jokes about Brahms' expression during certain situations, but in the end, he was a creepy little boy. Speaking of Greta, Lauren Cohan did an amazing job pulling the audience into this isolated, dark mansion. She was very convincing in making us care for her situation and rooting for her to get to safety as quickly as possible. She reacted to every situation believably and she definitely used her Maggie skills to troubleshoot and fight through this unusual situation. The elderly couple were also very committed to this story with their porcelain son and my heart went out to them through their tragic past and even more as the story progressed forward. Lastly, the atmosphere and setting were spot on keeping me engaged in the story and on the edge of my seat as the tension built between Greta and Brahms. The movie stays in the couple's home for majority of the movie and you get a real feel of how spacious the home is while Greta explores or simply lounges around in boredom.

The most important thing when it comes to movies like The Boy is how well it builds up suspense and it successfully delivers in that department. With Brahms' fierce side-eye stoic and uneasy stare combined with the silence and seclusion of the large home, you really want to cling onto Greta as she explores various areas of the house and investigate the mysterious history behind the doll. In short, the suspense and tense atmosphere really keeps you going along with this story, but...there are some flaws. There is a subplot dealing with Greta's past in America with an ex-partner. I admit, when it was first introduced, I immediately hated it and felt it unnecessary. I quickly predicted what might happen with this subplot and really I believe that if they omitted it or even minimized it further then the movie would be a little better. It doesn't completely hurt the main plot, but major elements of the subplot just fall into cliches that made me roll my eyes. Plus, it felt like the conversations about this stalker ex was forced into the script. It just didn't flow with what was going on with Greta, Brahms, and even the grocery boy Malcolm's relationship. I kinda understand what they were going for by adding extra conflict or obstacles for our main character, but it just doesn't work for this thriller and the conclusion is quite comical. As for the movie's main conclusion, well, it might be predictable for some, but I still enjoyed it. It reminded me of another movie [well, more of the remake than the original], but better...and less disgusting. The way the final act pans out was satisfying and paced very well.

The Boy, in my opinion [I mean, really, all of this is my opinion anyway XP], is a successful horror movie to start the year off. It might not be the best film of the horror genre in the past 5 years, but it's less problematic than The Forest. The atmosphere and acting is truly suspenseful and entertaining. Of course, the movie has its comical moments and flaws, but I thoroughly enjoyed this doll flick with the company of my friends. It might not be a hit for some with its predictability and unnecessary subplot, but horror movies are a very subjective genre for filmgoers.

Rating: 3.5/5

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