Greta (Lauren Cohan of The Walking Dead) jets off to Europe for a position as a nanny in a small English village. She plans to start anew after a messy breakup and the change of geography provides her with a unique opportunity to reassess her priorities. What Greta does not know until after she arrives is that her charge is a life-sized doll. Matters are further complicated when Greta comes to believe that the doll is actually alive.
Allow me to start by saying that I was pleasantly surprised by The Boy. I had extremely low expectations going in, but I was quite pleased with the way the film breaks the mold and goes in unexpected directions. I thought I had the whole picture pegged from start to finish, prior to actually watching it but I was wrong. The third act goes in a completely different direction than I expected and that was a nice surprise. Stacey Menear’s screenplay is inventive and often takes the audience to unexpected places.
I also really enjoyed the film’s gothic overtones. Though it is set in the present, The Boy is clearly inspired by the Hammer Horror Films of yesteryear and shares a lot of tonal similarities with films from that era. William Brent Bell is obviously a fan of the gothic horrors of years past and that inspiration comes through quite clearly. I have not previously been a fan of the director’s output but if The Boy is an indication of what he is capable of, I am, at the very least, curious to see what he does next.
Speaking of suspension of disbelief, I was a little bit concerned with Greta’s judgment when she barely batted an eye after being introduced to Brahms, the doll she was charged with caring for. I can’t say that I would be quite so polite or understanding if faced with a similar situation. While I realize that she is attempting to escape her past, I still found her reaction highly unusual. But, it didn’t take me long to get over my concern with Greta’s unusually easygoing approach to providing round the clock care for a porcelain doll. A big part of what helped me get past that was Lauren Cohan’s performance. Cohan was a solid casting choice and succeeds (for the most part) in carrying large portions of the film on her shoulders.
Ben Robson (Dracula: The Dark Prince) was slightly less believable as Greta’s ex. His British accent was thinly veiled by his attempt at mastering American dialect. His performance, while not all bad, was not entirely convincing. Fortunately, he isn’t on screen a great deal.
Rupert Evans (Hellboy), who does have a larger supporting role as the owner of a nearby grocery store, is well-cast and provides a much needed voice of reason to Greta.
WICKED RATING: [usr 5.5]
Director(s): William Brent Bell
Writer(s): Stacey Menear
Stars: Lauren Cohan, Rupert Evans, Ben Robson
Release: May 10, 2016 DVD and Blu
Studio/ Production Co: STX Entertainment
Length: 97 Minutes
Sub-Genre: Killer Dolls