Can’t we just get a horror flick about a creepy doll that fully accepts its inherent silliness? Much like 2014’s Annabelle, William Brent Bell’s (The Devil Inside) latest boasts a potentially compelling premise, but squanders it with mundane self-seriousness and a pronounced lack of scares.
Greta (Lauren Cohan) is a young American woman who takes a job in the UK as a nanny for a young boy in a privileged family. However, it turns out that the boy, Brahms, is in fact a porcelain doll, treated like a real boy by his parents, who are still mourning the actual child’s demise in a fire years prior.
Though not an unmitigated disaster, The Boy had so much more potential from the outset; the initial plot build is solid enough, but it sadly doesn’t go anywhere compelling, and spends far too long stuck in first gear, almost entirely devoid of any tension or suspense.
Cohan, to her credit, does about as robust a job as any actress is likely to with her part, keeping the pic watchable for the majority and incredulously maintaining a straight face even as the pic’s self-seriousness becomes increasingly laughable.
And that’s really the problem here; everyone involved is so busy making a dead-serious horror flick that they’ve forgotten how inherently kitschy a “doll movie” is, no matter that the film tries to subvert expectations with its admittedly entertaining, bonkers plot twist.
If the pic doesn’t want to be B-movie fun, then it needs to ramp up the scares, but given that the tension feels slack from start to finish, and most of the jump scares can be seen coming a mile off, it’s just a woefully unambitious, low-effort romp on the whole.
If not as atrocious as many dump month horrors recently hitting screens (looking at you, The Forest), The Boy nevertheless resists the urge to try something different, largely opting for flavourless formula.
The Boy is in US cinemas now and UK cinemas March 18th