Archive for Walking Dead

The Boy (2016)

Posted in Horror with tags , , , , , , , , on August 13, 2016 by The Confused Critic

(** out of ****)

Synopsis: Looking to escape an abusive relationship and start a new life, Greta (Lauren Cohan) relocates to England to become a nanny to Mr. and Mrs. Heelshire’s (Jim Norton and Diana Hardcastle) son Brahms. Naturally, Greta is surprised when she is introduced to Brahms and is greeted by a life-sized glass doll that resembles the Heelshire’s deceased son. As the Heelshire’s depart for vacation, they leave Greta with an explicit list of rules that outlines how she is to care for the seemingly non-sentient Brahms. Both annoyed and disturbed by this unusual scenario, our protagonist ignores her assigned duties and contemplates how she landed herself in such a predicament. However, her cynical, blasé attitude quickly dissipates as unusual phenomena begin to pile up around the house.

Review:  The Boy is the fifth directorial effort from William Brent Bell. Like his filmography (Stay Alive, The Devil Inside), what we get here is a bit of a mixed bag. Although the film looks stunning at times and introduces some truly unsettling ideas, it is a pretty house with no one home. For all its sweeping camera shots and dramatic music swells, the story never picks up or takes the viewer anywhere too unexpected. Instead, the team behind this movie plays it safe and avoids going into any real unexpected territory. For instance, with such an eerie plot setup, it is unfortunate that Bell relies so heavily upon canned jump scares that manipulate the viewer into a reflexive startle. Rather than actually build tension via a suspenseful setup, the filmmakers utilize obnoxiously loud music and obvious camera misdirection to force their scares.

Cohan, fresh off a streak of successful seasons on television’s The Walking Dead, manages to do what she can with the script. Unfortunately, she never comes across as a fully developed or even likable character. Her motivations change convolutedly from scene to scene, leaving us with an inconsistent character that is either way too dismissive of her situation or all too ready to accept and embrace the strange happenings. The same applies to the rest of the serviceable cast – they perform adequately enough to progress the plot where it needs to go without transcending their stock roles.

What we are left with is neither an offensive nor interesting film. Although we are treated to handful of creepy moments and twists along the way, seasoned horror fans may be at a loss as far as novel chills are concerned. Despite adequate performances and a final act that manages to inject some life into an otherwise routine plot, The Boy comes up short and should only be reserved for a casual streaming option on a lazy rainy day.

Confused Take: Look at that! It appears as though my last review (dutifully submitted over two years ago) covered a strikingly similar movie. Not quite sure what that says about me. I suppose that I have always been creeped out by stories that involve malevolent dolls/dummies/puppets/marionettes. Chucky was quite possibly the first cinematic antagonist to interfere with my slumbers and make me regret sneaking a clandestine peek at the USA Network’s Sunday afternoon horror movie marathon. Thus, it is disappointing when a movie like this comes up short and fails to replicate the naïve terror that I (for some reason) look back on fondly. Much like last year’s The Forest, The Boy provides an intriguing setup but, ultimately, squanders its advertised potential.

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