What’s so terrible about dolls? For some reason dolls are very common ‘characters’ in horror movies. Some of the most famous are Chucky (Child’s Play), Fats (Magic), Billy (Dead Silence) and Annabelle (The Conjuring). “The Boy” is another in a series of horror films with a doll. Guided by a rather creepy premise, the film has great potential, unfortunately with poor and uncertain realization.
Cohan, best known for her role as zombie-apocalypse survivor Maggie Greene in The Walking Dead, plays Greta Evans, an young American woman who takes a job as a nanny for a British family, the Heelshires in a remote English village. When she arrives at their estate, she realizes that the child she is supposed to be taking care of, isn’t a child at all, but a strangely lifelike porcelain doll that the parents care for just like a real boy.
What surprises Greta even more is the list of strict rules to follow, including reading to doll in a loud, clear voice, playing loud music for him, and putting his food in the freezer if he doesn’t eat it, and setting up rat traps outside, to make sure the rats don’t get inside the house’s walls. After violating a list of strict rules, a series of disturbing and paranormal events occur, leading her to believe that the doll is actually alive.
Good scare largely depends on the atmosphere the environment creates and the location of the horror is often the most important part of the movie. To create the creepy gothic, remote English manor, The Boy was filmed at Craigdarroch Castle in the Pacific coast city of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada
In the films, the historic Victorian building appears to be in the middle of nowhere, a house as lonely and forgotten as the Heelshires themselves, blanketed by thick fog and a miasma of painful memories.
The horror atmosphere in the movie is mostly achieved by the interior of the castle especially during rainy nights. There are no major surprises because the repertoire that The Boy offers is already visible and predictable.
Most of the scenes were shot in the evening to further heighten the tension and fear however the most interesting scenes should be seen more clearly. For example, when Greta stays trapped in the attic overnight, nothing is visible around her, not even herself, so the viewer can hardly feel Greta’s fear
Certain scenes are very effective and cleverly crafted, but all together seem lukewarm and incomplete.
Instead of the lot cheap jump scare scenes (there are only a few) here we have a story that is more based on the atmosphere, character building and background of the action. Because of all this, the movie seems more realistic and natural, but someone who wants purebred horror will be dissatisfied. The Boy is a PG13 movie so during its viewing: you won’t see (much) blood or brutality in it. What bothers is the predictability at some points where every (more experienced) viewer will immediately know what’s next.
The main people behind the film are director William Brent Bell and screenwriter Stacey Menear, and their biggest drawback is their inexperience. To Menear, this is the first script he has written, and it’s obvious he didn’t know which direction to go or how to end the movie, and Brent Bell is the fifth film, most of which are horror (“Stay Alive,” “The Devil Inside”). The lead roles went to Lauren Cohan and Rupert Evans, and they did their job solidly.