The Boy Blu-ray review
Greta Evans (Lauren Cohan, who plays Maggie Greene on AMC’s THE WALKING DEAD) needs a job and somewhere to be far from her Montana home. To her benefit, she hears of a position as a nanny in England. She takes the job, posted by an older couple, Mr. and Mrs. Heelshire (Tony Award-winning actor Jim Norton; Diana Hardcastle, THE (SECOND) BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL), who are looking for someone to look after their son, Brahms, while they are on holiday.
When Greta asks the grocery boy/man (Rupert Evans, the series THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE) about Brahms, he struggles to find the right words. And when she meets Mr. Heelshire, he is giving him a pep talk about his behavior. And then it is revealed: Brahms is a doll. Not in an “Oh, what a doll” sort of way, but rather a “Oh, what a creepy porcelain doll” sort of way.
The Heelshires have a few rules that must be followed, of course: he must be read to, kissed goodnight, etc. But these are brushed off by Greta, who is just the sort of person who would feed a mogwai after midnight without thinking twice. Soon after, all kinds of unwelcome happenings start to occur…
THE BOY has a few beneficial elements in place from the get-go, the primary one being the presence of a doll, because, more often than not, dolls are freaky—even if they’re not bent on killing humans, as was the habit of Chucky, Dolly Dearest and a slew of others. Another is the setting—a nearly empty country home far from other civilians—which is an ideal one as far as establishing the proper mood. There is also a fairly compelling collection of mysteries going on: Why do the Heelshires treat this doll like their son? Is there a spirit inside of the doll? What happened to the real Brahms? Was there even a real Brahms?
Other than that, THE BOY is as stale as any horror movie can come, as it’s packed with an assortment of cheap scare tactics (boo! scenes, sudden music cues, etc.), instances of Brahms jerking his head suddenly and some expected knee-high POV shots, which seem to appear in just about every killer doll/kid flick. And don’t count out the anticipated “No, really, the doll is alive! I swear it! Just watch!” moments.
Directed by William Brent Bell (2006’s STAY ALIVE, 2012’s THE DEVIL INSIDE), THE BOY imagines it can get by just by having a (non-?)living doll as the antagonist. This will undoubtedly work for some, but there has to be something more than that for the effort to stand out.
THE BOY is a spectacularly dumb movie that takes the subgenre and apparently does the best it can to make things far sillier than they have to be—this might be the only movie in history to use peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to scare the audience.
Video: 2.40:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. The details of the country home are textured and show up nicely. The real draw, though, is the black levels, which help build the mood—and cheap scares—of THE BOY.
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. Subtitles in English, Spanish and French. Another aspect aiding greatly to the mood is the score and sound effects, which come at just the right times for maximum spook power.