Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Movie Review #369: "The Boy" (2016)

Movie"The Boy"
Director: William Brent Bell
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 38 minutes
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Trying to leave her past behind her, Greta (Lauren Cohan) takes a surprisingly high paying job as a nanny in England. Upon arriving from the United States, she finds out the boy she is meant to watch is actually a life-sized porcelain doll. Greta thinks the doll's parents, the Heelshire's, are a little crazy, but she soon learns there may be more to the doll than she realizes, and breaking the rules could have dire consequences.

So far, 2016 has not been a great year for new movies. "Norm of the North" and "Dirty Grandpa" are already 100% locks as two of the worst films of the year, and "The Forest" is on the border by being a sub-mediocre, scareless cliche-fest. William Brent Bell's "The Boy" is the second PG-13 horror release of January 2016. Needless to say, we were a little worried going into "The Boy" as both January horror movies and PG-13 horror movies are notoriously bad. We are pleased to say, however, we rather enjoyed this film.

Like most horror films, "The Boy" is set in a creepy, isolated mansion way out in the country. In this case, the Heelshire residence is in a remote section of England with no nearby neighbors, no cell service, and no wi-fi. This leaves the protagonist Greta, played by "The Walking Dead" veteran Lauren Cohan, mostly cut off from the outside world with the exception of a landline telephone and the occasional visit from the local grocer named Malcolm, played by Rupert Evans. This setting is perfectly creepy and offers some tense mood throughout the film. Knowing this movie revolved around a disturbing looking, eerie, possibly possessed doll, we hoped this wasn't going to be another "Annabelle," which looked menacing but turned out to be really awful. Luckily, "The Boy" has a unique and original take on the whole creepy doll situation. Though this film does have some jump scares, it doesn't feel the need to rely on them or overuse them. Mostly, it relies on atmosphere, tension, and selling the feeling of isolation and uncertainty as Greta slowly starts to think she might be going crazy. The longer she is with Brahms, the more she thinks he might actually be alive...or is he?

It does have a very old-school horror feel to it packed with a more modern twist. We often felt unnerved by what was going on and really liked the mystery of it all. The general story line might be a little bit overused and full of certain horror cliches, but its execution is slightly different, and this will be divisive to some viewers. Lauren Cohan does great as she carries the majority of the movie on her own. She also has a fabulous American accent, which is something we can notice and appreciate once she drops the awful southern accent Maggie from "The Walking Dead" has. Jim Norton and Diana Hardcastle, who play Mr. And Mrs. Heelshire, though only briefly in the film, offer up the right amount of British posh with just a hefty dose of mystery and a slight sprinkling of creepy. Rupert Evans is also good, too, as he starts to think Greta is a little loopy, but slowly comes around to see what she sees about Brahms. Though it can be a little slow at times, "The Boy" winds up being a well written, solidly executed January horror film, even though there are quite a few cliches. We went in expecting a flop-fest and came out of it as shocked as ever. Who knew it was possible to make a halfway decent January horror flick?

My Rating: 7/10
BigJ's Rating: 7/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.8/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 26%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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