As far as creepy doll movies go, “The Boy,” released on Jan. 22, falls somewhere between the utter disaster that is “Seed of Chucky” and the mediocre, somewhat frightening spin-off of “The Conjuring,” 2014’s “Annabelle.”
After seeing the oh-so-gripping previews for “The Boy” for several weeks and allowing excitement for the film to build up, finally watching the full movie was nothing if not a huge letdown.
Director William Brent Bell clearly had his hands tied by Stacey Menear’s embarrassing attempt at a horror screenplay, but his poor efforts to make the film dramatic and scary are obvious and clichéd and only succeed at making the film look over the top and, frankly, silly. “The Boy” has to depend too much on dream sequences, dark and stormy nights and jump scares because the story itself lacks any kind of suspense or urgency.
The highlight of the film is star Lauren Cohan, best known for her portrayal of Maggie Greene on “The Walking Dead,” whose character, Greta, is a nanny hired by a peculiar older couple, Mr. and Mrs. Heelshire (Jim Norton and Diana Hardcastle), to watch after their son for a few months while they are away on vacation.
Little does Greta know, the Heelshires’ 8-year-old son is actually a life-size doll, which they pretend is their child. Mrs. Heelshire explains to Greta that she must dress him every morning, feed him, play him his music, and most of all, be good to him. Mr. Heelshire tells Greta that, although it may seem odd to her at first, his son is very much alive.
Greta finally learns from the local grocery boy (Rupert Evans) that her employers’ real son, Brahms, died in a fire 20 years earlier, and the doll showed up not long after as a way for the couple to cope with their loss.
But when strange things begin happening around the house, Greta starts to suspect that the doll may in fact be more than just an inanimate object. Voices are heard in the middle of the night, Greta’s belongings disappear and turn up in different places, and before long, the doll begins to seemingly move on its own.
While the talented acting from Cohan does its part to improve the movie, “The Boy” remains irredeemable. Most of the film is rising action, and when we finally do get to the twist ending, the plot takes a direction so out of left field, the audience is left confused and perhaps even a bit angry with the filmmakers.