Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Horror Film Review

The Boy (2016):  Creepy doll flick set in the English countryside and starring Maggie from The Walking Dead (Lauren Cohan).  I'm assuming someone had the bright idea to capitalize on the popularity of Annabelle from the Conjuring films, and I'm glad they did because this is a groovy movie.

Fleeing an abusive relationship, Greta (Cohan) accepts a position in the U.K. as nanny to the son of the Heelshires, a strange old couple who live in the middle of nowhere.  No cell phone service, no internet, as primitive as can be.  Stranger still is the fact that the couple's son Brahms is a life-sized and life-like doll they treat and speak to as though real.  Greta is shown a rigid daily schedule for Brahms including meals, reading, music, and even a kiss goodnight.  Then the Heelshires are off on holiday.  Greta, of course, thinks they're loony tunes and ignores the schedule.  Malcolm (Rupert Evans), the once a week deliveryman, takes a shine to Greta and explains the real Brahms died in a fire and his parents never recovered.  No shit.  Malcolm also reveals local gossip about the boy and it's not what you'd call positive.  Soon, Greta notices the doll changes position when she's not looking or her possessions get moved or go missing.  Reluctantly, she begins to think the doll is haunted/possessed by Brahms and so starts following Heelshires' schedule for their son.  As a side note, I should mention that back in the States with her asshole boyfriend, Greta had a miscarriage after the asshole beat on her.  This probably explains why she increasingly treats the doll like a real boy.  Oh, there's also a scene where we watch the Heelshires walk hand in hand into the sea.  What could prompt their decision to kill themselves?  Eventually, Greta confides in a skeptical Malcolm who after witnessing the doll move when they're out of the room now also believes the spirit of Brahms inhabits it.  At this point, everything goes a bit tits up.

Asshole boyfriend Cole (Ben Robson) shows up unannounced and apologetic.  He says he's come to take her home.  Malcolm comes by, Cole flies into a jealous rage, and Greta asks Brahms to help.  Psychotic Cole grabs the doll by its legs and smashes it to pieces.  Here's your spoiler warning.  Turns out Brahms didn't die in a fire.  He's all grown up and living in the secret passages in the house.  Like Jason Voorhees, he's big, quiet, and wears a mask, albeit not a hockey mask, and, of course, is fucking insane.  Suddenly, this supernatural movie transforms into a slasher flick.  After the doll is destroyed, Brahms bursts in, kills Cole, and chases Malcolm and Greta through the secret passages.  Malcolm goes down (is he alive or dead?) and she escapes outside and flees down the driveway but then stops and returns to the house.  I started thinking she was insane until I realized her plan.  She finds Brahms and begins scolding him as a nanny would scold a rambunctious boy.  It's bedtime and he needs to get under the covers.  No kiss because he's been bad.  This works...for a while.  Ultimately, his base desires overwhelm his child-like mentality and they fight.  Luckily Greta had the common sense to secretly pocket a screwdriver.  Turns out Brahms isn't quite as indestructible as Jason.

I must admit, I did not see the twist coming.  Very clever.  I knew Cole would show up but had no inkling about Brahms.  I enjoy surprises like this.  My one complaint involves the very last shot in the film.  I guess Greta should have found a bigger screwdriver.

The Skinny

Acting:  There is acting and it's really very good.  Bigly good.
Story:  Fresh, clever, and uber creepy.
Direction:  I could not find a misstep except for the length; 97 minutes is too long.
Production Values:  Splendid.  They used the $8 million budget well.
Gore/FX:  Some blood when Cole goes down.  No gore nor CGI that I can recall.
Scares:  It does have its moments.
Ending:  Except for the last shot, quite satisfying.
Verdict:  Should you see The Boy?  You should.  It's nice to watch Cohan be someone other than Maggie.  It's even nicer to find a creepy doll movie that's twisty and not really about the doll.

Rating:  4 out of 5

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