April 8, 2016

Theatrical Review: The Boy (2016)

"Dolls are always creepy. Always."

(aka The Inhabitant.)
Release Date: January 22nd.
Country: USA.
Rating: PG-13.
Written by: Stacey Menear.
Directed by: William Brent Bell.
Starring: Lauren Cohan, Rupert Evans, and a creepy-ass doll named Brahms.

Studios make this kind of glossy, star-powered PG-13 Horror movie to appeal to the broadest audience possible, because they want to make money. Spend $10 or so million to make it, hope that it takes in 4 or 5 times that at the Box Office, and then make even more money, which is all pure profit by that point, when it hits VOD and DVD.

That's the formula. We get it. 

Of course, that means that these types of "safe" Horror flicks have to be toned down as much as possible, so as not to alienate the younger audience. Gore, nudity, and anything else that would make kids unable to go see this movie on their own, usually tend to be watered down, or completely taken out of the average PG-13 Horror flick, which usually makes them play bland and uninspiring.

And that's why it's really hard for a movie like The Boy to be good. Not that it wasn't, because we enjoyed it for what it was, but it could have been so much better had they been able to add a little more bite to it.

This review is going to contain SPOILERS, so avoid the marked sections!

Greta is a hot American nanny who is looking to escape an abusive boyfriend, so she accepts a job in a remote English village as a nanny to a boy named Brahms. The only catch is that Brahms isn't a boy at all, but a doll, which makes Greta laugh at first, but then creeps her the hell out when she realizes that "his" parents think he's a real boy; talking to him, fawning all over him, and treating him like he's alive. Of course Brahms' parents are 100-years-old, so maybe they're just senile.

Turns out that they actually did have a son named Brahms, who was real and all, but he died tragically in a fire when he was 8-years-old. So they're just pretending that the porcelain doll is him, because of grief or something. Or they're insane. Either way, they leave her with a to-do list for her to follow, tell her that Brahms is not a normal child, and that he's had a lot of nannies that he's "rejected" over the years, so she'd better follow the to-do list to the letter if she wants to live to spend the crazy amount of money that they're paying her to doll-sit. Then they peace out and never come back.

She becomes fast friends with Malcolm; a local delivery man from the village who tells her all about Brahms and his parents, and laughs at her for taking this crazy job. Neither of them are laughing when Brahms starts to move, sing, and do all kinds of creepy shit on his own though, and it's not long before they realize that they need to get the hell out of that house, and away from the secrets that it holds, before they end up dead.

Overall, The Boy was a pretty entertaining flick. It was a creepy little haunted doll movie that didn't rely on too many of the standard tricks and tropes that are used by other films of its type. Instead of jump-scares, director William Brent Bell instead focused on story and character, which make the films progression play more naturally, and provided plenty of unsettling moments.

Then again, there's a lot more going on in this movie than just the typical haunted doll shenanigans that you'd expect. In fact, the swerve at the end makes The Boy into something even creepier and more sinister than any old doll could ever do on its own.



And that's the big issue we had with The Boy: it starts off being a supernatural story about a doll, and then tunes into a hider-in-the-house sort of thing about a killer. The reason that's a problem is because we liked the part with the grown-up, killer Brahms better than the creepy doll stuff, and we really wish that the movie would have given us more of it. Especially in something closer to R-rated form. We really liked the "Real" Brahms' mask, and the way that he so ferociously came after Greta and Malcolm.


Whatever the movie is or isn't though, it's really the presence of Lauren Cohan that makes it work as well as it does. The script is solid, as is the direction, but it's the beautiful Walking Dead star who grabbed out attention and held it. With her work on TWD, and the solid job she did carrying a movie on her shoulders for the first time, it's plain to see that Lauren Cohan is going to be around for a long time, and we're fine with that.

All in all, The Boy was a much better "big" theatrical Horror movie than we expected it to be.

There's some violence towards the end, but for the most part, this is a bloodless affair.

No such luck.

Dolls should be avoided at all costs.

Critics hated this movie, but you know what, it was far better than they'd have you believe. It was sufficiently creepy, Lauren Cohan was great, and the twist towards the end took the whole thing in a crazy new direction that we really liked.

You could do a lot worse than giving The Boy a rent when it hits VOD in a couple of weeks.


The Boy will be available on Blu-ray & DVD on May 10th, and on VOD April 26th.


We love us some Lauren Cohan.


  1. The moment when the real Brahms shows his face for the first time behind the wall. Damn, that's creepy.

  2. Agree much. They should've focused more on the real Brahms angle killing people. The movie was a bit dragging at the beginning building up this supernatural thing only to find out in the end that there's really no supernatural entity involved. It got exciting towards the ending with the chasing and all but it was too short and only one person got killed. Would've been a good movie.

  3. Interesting. I felt exactly the opposite way. I thought the first part was really well done, atmospheric and quite creepy, while the finale with "the real Brahms" to me was boring and ridden with cliches.
    Well, at least we agree on Ms. Cohan: She is mighty F-I-N-E-!

    1. I honestly enjoyed the whole thing, for what it was, but for some reason the last few minutes just caught me off guard and I loved it.

      You're not wrong that it felt a bit cliche though.