Monday, 21 March 2016

The Boy (2016) - Horror Film Review

For a solid two months The Boy has been advertised at the cinema, it didn't look particularly scary but I thought it couldn't be worse than the abysmal Annabelle, plus I was interested to see what Lauren Cohan was like in a different role to Maggie that she plays in The Walking Dead. Once again I have gotten a notice to remove images from my review, I find this extremely petty as I am a fan blog that receives no money for my reviews, I do it out of love for the genre. I find it funny how I only get copyright notices from mediocre films, The Boy certainly is as bland as they come, and as the studio or whoever brought out a claim against me were so petty, I myself have been petty in return and removed a zombie head from my overall score at the end of this review.

Cohan stars as Greta Evans; an American who has travelled to a remote mansion in the UK to take on the role of nanny to eight year old boy Brahms. The strange parents introduce her to the boy which it turns out is a creepy life size porcelain doll, at first she thinks it's a joke but it becomes apparent the elderly couple truly believe the doll to be real. With them off all too quickly on holiday Greta is left alone with just Brahms for company, and the grocery man Malcolm who comes by once a week. Ignoring the rules left for her to follow she instead neglects the doll, but after a series of unexplainable events it seems that just maybe the spirit of the real Brahms (who died in a fire twenty years previous) is possessing the doll and that it would be unwise of her to anger it...

The biggest complaint with Annabelle was that it didn't utilise the staples of the possessed doll genre well, the doll itself does nothing and just happened to be the focal point for a demonic force. Hopes of getting a Child's Play style walking and talking puppet were not really realised here either, the doll moves around and even talks at points in the film but always from behind closed doors, the plot device used being that Brahms is shy around people. It is a step up from zero movement but aside from a few nightmare sequences ruined to death in the trailers it is a static, albeit creepy doll.

So what is Cohan like outside of The Walking Dead? Well she's ok but her character isn't written too well and falls into quite a predictable route of her being a combination of headstrong yet with a soft side. She had an interesting enough back story that has some bearing on events but while the acting is fine enough there wasn't enough to make me care about her, Malcolm, or indeed any other of the small cast, there is just something inherently bland about all of them.

The Boy has been watered down to appeal to a general audience so much that it just is not scary at all, sure the doll is unsettling but it's antics are more on the playful side than malevolent. There comes a point in the film where Greta coming to the realisation it may actually truly be possessed doesn't flee the mansion but instead comes to embrace her job looking after it, she is never given a reason to think the doll is anything evil. It was a breath of fresh air that she is actually able to prove to another person the doll really might be supernatural rather than be looked at until crazy until the inevitable action packed finale. There are a few jump scares punctuated throughout but as I said earlier, all are in the trailers and so are ineffectual. Late into the film comes the twist and I have to say it was a really fun twist that turned the movie from a young boy of horror into a man of horror for an all too brief couple of minutes. I did really enjoy those couple of minutes but after the shock of the twist wore off and with a slight snatching of tropes from a different genre things settle back down into inoffensive middle of the road horror.

The Boy looks the part with some decent enough special effects and a great use of sound effects as well as some solid enough set design but the horror just is not there. Characters who are pretty plain, an antagonist who doesn't have nearly enough flesh to his story and aside from the awesome twist a pretty predictable path taken. Better than Annabelle as I had hoped, but sadly as plain as I had expected also.


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