The Boy Review

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By: Justin Jasso (@jjasso007)

Life has a strange way of working out sometimes. We’ve all had ideas of how our lives would go, where we would be by certain ages, careers we may be involved in, children we’d have, but the reality of life is that things rarely go as we initially planned. For some people, it takes drastic changes in their lives to get them on the right track. Such is the foundation for the latest film by director William Brent Bell, The Boy.

Greta (Lauren Cohan), an American living in England, takes a temporary nanny job in a remote English village. An elderly couple wants her to look after their eight year-old son. The issue arises when Greta is introduced, and finds out that their child is a life-sized porcelain doll. The couple treats this doll like their actual son, who died many years before. Before they leave, they leave Greta strict rules to follow regarding the care of their son. But when Greta starts breaking the rules, strange things begin happening around the house. Is it all in Greta’s imagination or is the doll actually possessed and a threat to Greta’s existence?

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With the success of many paranormal films lately, specifically The Conjuring and Annabelle, which both use a doll at some point, studios keep going to the money well until it dries up. This is a prime example of just that. And not to say the film is bad, as it has its own creepiness with the rural setting, plus the life-sized doll. And it differs from Annabelle in various ways, specifically the twist towards the end of the film. But it also falls into many of the same patterns that we’ve come to expect from these types of films. The isolation, the female in distress, the creepy things that shouldn’t be able to happen yet do. We’ve seen it all before, and we have an inkling of how the film is going to progress and end. I also have to question why they ask Cohan, an English actress, to play an American with an American accent traveling to England.

Speaking of Cohan, this is the first horror film of her career, if you consider it a horror film. She is, by no means, asked to stretch her thespian skills here. You’ll find a much more thorough character from her version of Maggie on The Walking Dead. Here, she not only has the conflict brewing in the house with the paranormal doll, but also the conflict that she left America for, which still haunts her. She is able to find levels within the character, yet it still comes off as somewhat flat. Rupert Evans is the only other real ‘significant’ actor in the film, playing the character Malcolm, who delivers groceries to the house and could become a potential love interest. Jim Norton and Diana Hardcastle play Mr. and Mrs. Hillshire, the parents to the porcelain doll. They are in the film minimally and are not really worth discussing.

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The Boy is by no means going to blow away the box office, nor set any new standards for what a paranormal film should entail. It has its fair share of jumps, yet nothing out of the ordinary. The plot twist at the end is something clever, yet still predictable, if you think about the story and follow the clues. The studio is most likely banking on Cohan filling the seats in the audience, but not even she will really be able to save this film. While it’s decent, it’s definitely nothing to run out and see. Luckily for her, she gets to head back to The Walking Dead and leave this film as zombie food.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars


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