This review may contain mild spoilers
Our first thought, The Boy must be a male version of Annabelle or a porcelain Chucky but in a well-groomed and mannered look. But apparently the truth is beyond our thought by means far more shocking. Instead of being a handsome killer doll or an evil disguised gift, The Boy is intentionally bought to surrogate a dead son of Heelshire family.
The plot starts 20 years after an 8-year-old boy named Brahms died in a fire incident. Seemingly his parents haven’t been able to give in his death, they hire numbers of nanny to take care of Brahms doll. However, taking care of it has never been easy as previous nannies couldn’t relate well with the doll, or in another word, they were rejected.
But when a new candidate, Greta (Lauren Cohan), steps in through a job vacancy, little does she know that the requirements of being such nanny can’t buy her guts. Later all that we know the reason she keeps pursuing the job after knowing the horrid truth is kind of irrational.
The Good News
We initially thought the premise of Annabelle is strong in The Boy but later find William Brent Bell (The Devil Inside) invests a more effective formula. Away from the linear killer doll plotline, The Boy delivers a meander of thrill which successfully slow-burns and builds tension, at least before the twist comes.
There’s lying a suspicious motive behind the doll existence and all the hired nannies’ rejection which leads this movie to series of psychological thriller events and keeps us guessing about the hidden truth, whether it’s actually invested by an evil spirit or it’s just everyone in the house, including Mr and Mrs. Heelshire, has gone mad.
And rather than a formulaic runway, The Boy surprises us with the Shyamalan-esque twisted ending. However, there’s glitch, especially when the twist turns our suspense into confusion, tears down our expectation, and damages the already well built-up tension. Is Brahms still alive? Is he avenging a pain his parents caused him? Are the nannies offering for Brahm to conduct his lunatic ritual? Is Brahm simply a physco locked up from the society?
The good news, despite the strong sense of such letdown, we still find The Boy cleverly roll all above questions quite sluggish to meet our thrill. Shortly, all questions arouse Brahms and later the suspicious whereabouts of his parents successfully send more chills down our spine. The production details also ooze a suspenseful atmosphere especially along the crannies, in the attic, and at every possible corner found in the creaky mansion.
But while the first half of the movie give enough scary moments, surprisingly the rest are awkwardly funny. Let’s check out the background of Greta who actually takes this job to deliberately escape his annoying ex and unexpectedly bump into another hot guy. We mean, see how lucky she is to relate well with Malcolm (Rupert Evans), even his background is so questionable. Is he simply a guy next door who’s sane enough to deliver groceries to weirdo’s door every week?
The bittercup, even we find the romance brings enough relaxation to our anxiety, it can’t help covering the absurdities sprung out incontrollably during the second half. Just make sure you pay attention when comes the worst scene which Greta’s ex, Cole (Ben Robson) suddenly appears, crumbles the intensity into a shaky anticlimax, just to bring a stupid laughter to your face.
Director: William Brent Bell, Charlotte Wolf
Cast: Lauren Cohan, Rupert Evans, James Russell
Duration: 98 mins