The Boy full movie review - ★★☆☆☆ - "Second-hand genre banality."
Greta is a young, American nanny, who has been employed by an elderly couple, Mr. & Mrs.
Heelshire, to take care of their child, while they are on holiday, at their isolated English mansion; but the premise of William Brent Bell's (The Devil Inside, Stay Alive) new horror film, The Boy, is not entirely that straightforward. As the title rather conveniently suggests, Bell's fifth film centres around a boy, who goes by the name of Brahms. However, the Heelshire's failed to mention some vital information to Greta regarding Brahms before she eagerly signed up to work for them: he is a doll.
"Hello, is anybody up there?": One of Greta's opening lines, which ticks a box on any 'horror clichés list', The Boy unquestionably delivers a concoction of cheesiness. Almost immediately, after Greta leaves the taxi driven by a perverted cab driver who has a thing for her cleavage, we are launched into this crater of predictability and genre convention: A Gothic mansion "in the middle of nowhere", many shots of creepy toys, the dull woman in danger vs. otherness? staying away from the border into perilous, ground-breaking territory; instead, sticking to the basics.
After some exploring around the eerie house, Greta is introduced to the Heelshire's suave grocer, Malcolm, who can supposedly read peoples pasts by holding their chewing gum?grim. After reading Greta's gum, Malcolm predicts that she has had a troubled life. It is later revealed that Greta is escaping a violent relationship she had in the U.S., with a douche?or man?named Cole. Sensing some chemistry between both Malcolm and Greta, it is evident this shall not be the last time we see Malcolm nor hear his poncey English accent; the plot is all too familiar. Shortly after this encounter, we have the pleasure of meeting the Heelshire's. Both with voices which are the epitome of Downtown Abbey English (of course), Mrs. Heelshire is a blank but peculiar lady who?along with Mr. Heelshire?we only see for a short while. During this time, Mrs. Heelshire introduces Greta to their son, Brahms, who she discovers to be a bisque doll. The Heelshire's take care of Brahms as if he were a real young boy, using it as a decoy to sugar-coat the fact that the real Brahms was killed in a fire over 20 years ago. Greta handles the situation collectively, only letting a single giggle slip-out, presenting little resistance to the story of Brahms, which is both frustrating and questionable. Mrs. Heelshire goes through all the rules Greta needs to abide by while they are away on holiday, such as kissing Brahms goodnight and serving him food. It is not long before the Heelshire's leave Greta with Brahms, alone in the house (well it had to be done, didn't it?), naïve and defenceless (?that too).
By this point, the overarching thrill of this film has ferociously disintegrated into the ground: Jump scares have already made an appearance ten minutes after the film started, too early to construct any form of suspense. Also, we have already been introduced fully to the main spectacle of the show, Brahms, leaving us nothing but Greta's struggle to look after this child/doll and the story of why she left home to pursue her nanny career in Great Britain, which doesn't make a riveting viewing. For me, before watching a horror film, I have a buzz: A combination between excitement and fear of the unexpected, which couple together to form a hybrid emotion, otherwise known as the buzz. However, my buzz deflated a few scenes into The Boy due to its lack of suspense, leaving us nothing to anticipate, instead we watch a catalogue of second-hand genre banality.
Greta originally does not treat Brahms like a human-being. After the Heelshire's leave, she begins by placing a blanket over his head, putting her feet up and nibbling on a sandwich while Brahms is collaborating an evil plan to kill Greta, or something along those lines. Strange supernaturalesque behaviour begins to kick off: The blanket on Brahms somehow has fallen on the ground when Greta returns, her necklace and dress is stolen while she showers (typical), loud noises are coming from the attic and Brahms starts appearing in different locations around the house. Greta then starts to believe that Brahms is alive, sharing this news with Malcom who, again, is another pushover who accepts this story.
Performances in this film are solid?but how challenging can it be to act surprised and out of breath like Greta? Letting the side down, however, is Cole (Mark Robson), Greta's violent American ex, who could do with a few more years in drama school?if he did at all attend?as he embarks on an un-energised, naff performance. A Golden Raspberry nomination? Perhaps. Luckily, he isn't in the film for long and this didn't damage my overall opinion of the movie: its place in cinematic hell was already sealed firmly in the ground long before.
Yet another one of William Brent Bell's horror films carries a dangerously thin screenplay, oozing with predictability in a joyless fashion. However, originality is not my principle disliking for this newest contemporary-genre trash; Bell does not understand the concept of suspense at all, which should be the load-bearing wall in this type of film, leaving the audience with an empty, jump-scare fest which focuses too much on Greta's past rather than building a tense atmosphere in the present. The aesthetic and style is correct, the setting is not at all uncommon but satisfactory, these are things that didn't cock-up. For Bell, horror clearly isn't his thing, perhaps an M. Night Shyamalan in the making? A good shout. I would recommend that he works on making a film in another genre, however I don't want him to obliterate yet another one. If this wasn't the tombstone of his film career, then prepare for more trash in the near but distant future? I just hope this doesn't put you off horror, or the cinema, altogether.