2016 Lauren Cohan, Rupert Evans, Jim Norton, Diana Hardcastle
American nanny Greta travels to England to care for an elderly couple's son. She gets quite the shock when supposed son Brahms turns out to be a life sized doll with a strict set of rules to follow. Greta dismisses this as nonsense at first until strange and unexplainable events lead her to believe that the doll may hold terrible secrets...
The Boy delivers many a creepy moment from start to finish, slowly but surely ratcheting up the tension and suspense. Brahms is a truly memorable character, he has the ability to be completely terrifying and almost threatening without even moving. As an audience you are constantly on edge trying to catch a glimpse of something, a blink or a simple nod of the head, anything to validate your fear of this doll. The film has a handful of jump scares but where it succeeds most is in the way it conveys it's sombre tone. The film may very openly advertise itself as a horror film but amongst the scares there are elements of tragedy, loss and the way we try and cope with grief. Director William Brent Bell has taken great care to make this a thought provoking watch as well as a spooky experience.
The setting of the film plays greatly to it's strength, the old England manor house is vast and although Greta could wander it's lengthy halls at her will, there was still a sense of her being a prisoner there. Being set in such a clique haunted house scenario does lead to some predictable 'jump scare moments', the slamming door, creaking stairs and shadowy figure are something horror fans have seen one hundred times or more.
Once you think you have Bramhs all figured out the film has a few more surprises in store. This final act caught me completely off guard and was such a treat, the slow and suspenseful tone is switched for a breakneck fight for survival. The plot is not sacrificed even here though, all the missing pieces are revealed and it is up to the audience to put all those pieces together.
Clique as it may be in parts, I found myself pleasantly surprised and really revelled in the dark and suspenseful tone. Acting was solid across the board and Bramhs is an excellent and memorable horror character.
The Boy may not win any awards for originality, but what it does offer is a tense, unpredictable and well crafted mystery with an excellent pay off.