Director: William Brent Bell
Cast: Lauren Cohan, Rupert Evans, James Russell
Spoilers Within: No
Originally posted 10th May 2016 on Letterboxd.
A film like The Boy is entertaining to a fault. The weight of the drama and horror relies on an audience’s reaction to its central conceit. If you find the image of a doll in lieu of a living child funny from the outset, it’ll be very difficult to change your outlook by the time the credits roll. Fortunately, for me, the silliness of an affluent family’s raising of a ceramic child never became a thing of contention, but rather I was able to put myself in the shoes of disbelief that Lauren Cohen’s Greta was experiencing and find myself entertained by its tongue-in-cheek mystery.
The strongest aspect of the film was that they refused to give an answer. Although it’s not a benchmark for its genre – or indeed a great one – in different hands it could have botched the mystery from the start but by remaining ambiguous about its potential otherworldliness (is the doll haunted by its past likeness or not?) it keeps the mystery alive long enough to enjoy the revelation. Sadly, the film cannot resist a pathetic jump scare or two (twice happening during another rote idea of a ‘nightmare’ scene), and the ending in far too reminiscent of more competently made films such as the recent Australian horror-comedy Housebound.
It was adequately obscure enough to be engaging and goofy enough to be watchable, and the small cast did an amicable job of giving what passive-horror fans desire, all the while serving up a grand vision with beautifully contained cinematography and a superbly looming soundtrack. It doesn’t bring anything new to the genre, but it handled its cliches well enough to have been worth the short running-time.