Main cast: Lauren Cohan (Greta Evans), Rupert Evans (Malcolm), Ben Robson (Cole), Jim Norton (Mr Heelshire), and Diana Hardcastle (Mrs Heelshire)
Director: William Brent Bell
Our American lady Greta Evans needs to get away from an abusive ex, so she decides to accept a babysitting gig from a couple all the way in England. On her first day, she is left alone in a creepy huge mansion house while waiting for her employers, the Heelshires, to come back from an outing. She demonstrates her trustworthiness by, upon believing that she hears voices upstairs, going up to touch and play with things without permission. Fortunately, she is only found out by Malcolm, the local guy who does deliveries of groceries to the Gothic mansion. He’s cute, so he may as well wear a sign over his head that says, “Hello! Love interest!”
The mansion is creepy – many of the windows are barricaded with nailed down planks, for a start – but there is nothing creepier than Brahms, the boy Greta will be caring for. You see, Brahms in a life-sized porcelain doll. His parents treats him as if he is alive, and later Malcolm will tell her that they have been doing this over the last twenty years, after the real Brahms died in a fire. Greta is expected to treat the doll like it’s a real boy too – the Heelshires leaves her a list of to-do things: wake the “boy” up at this time, change “his clothes”, feed this for breakfast, et cetera. Her employers go on a vacation soon after.
Naturally, Greta is like “Oh hell, no!” to the list, fully intending to ignore the doll, instead relaxing and maybe getting to know Malcolm better when he offers to take her out for a date. However, weird things start happening around the house, and Greta soon gets this suspicion that the doll may indeed be alive. Worse, the doll may be upset that she’s not giving “him” the TLC as per the rules set down by “his” parents…
The Boy starts out pretty okay. The main cast is for the most part unexceptional, but if Rupert Evans’s Malcolm is completely forgettable, Lauren Cohan does an adequate job in portraying the heroine. Greta may not be the most interesting protagonist around, but there is enough about her that feels real enough for the audience can relate to. The doll is the star of the show, though. It really is creepy, and the chilling visual of its unblinking eyes and all is far more terrifying than any of the canned loud crashes and slow-motion cinematography in this movie.
The scares are mostly played out gimmicks, though – dream scenes, slow-motion camera pan ending with a loud sound, et cetera. The movie can get rather predictable and, therefore, less scary as a result.
However, the twist at the end is really stupid. A lot of the inconsistencies and nonsense in this movie can be hand-waved away if Brahms is actually a supernatural doll, but no, it turns out that he’s actually a living person who has been watching and listening from his home in the secret rooms and passages all this while. Apparently, he blackmailed his parents to treat the doll like a real kid, and now he wants Greta to do the same. But why? Why would he want to live out being a kid by proxy? Why not just get Greta to give him TLC directly? Because all of these things are not answered, the whole twist just reeks of dumb. The movie for the most part feels like a very average and forgettable horror thriller, but the twist really kills it. The movie becomes a lot more stupid as a result, and I actually groan when it happens. A better twist would be, I don’t know, having Brahms being a supernatural doll and bonding with an increasingly deranged Greta until they live together in the house, isolated from the rest of the world, perhaps?
But I suppose being remembered as a dumb movie may be better than having the audience forgetting it completely for being so average?