From Magic to Saw, creepy dolls have been as important to horror as nudity and Jamie Lee Curtis. With their dead eyes and motionless faces, they’re the genre’s answer to Henry Cavill. The latest frightening figurine is Brahms, as in the rhyming slang for being drunk – which might help when watching The Boy.
The film (let’s call it PinocchiOmen) opens as American nanny Greta (Lauren Cohan) arrives at an English country house to look after the child of an elderly couple (Jim Norton and Diana Hardcastle), only to be confronted with the creepiest doll since Baby Wee-Wee – and they insist this doll is their son Brahms. That’s the first of many points at which any sensible person would make like a drag queen and split. The couple then present Greta with a list of horror movie rules for looking after their porcelain “son”, including: kiss him goodnight, never leave him alone and don’t think about the plot too much. So Greta looks after Brahms without incident and they all live happily ever after. Not really – the dummy starts to move, dummy.
This film plays out exactly as you’d expect. Greta spends much of the movie in fewer clothes than an English country house might warrant, and takes a stupidly long time to realise what we instantly grasped from the poster – that Brahms is actually Marco Rubio, only taller and less evil. He’s certainly creepy (what child wears cardigans in this day and age?), it’s better than Batman v Superman (what isn’t?) and at one point it turns into a Friday the 13th film (some reviews have complained about that but for me it’s the best part). Overall though, this is one dull doll movie. With its hints at grief and abuse, the film thinks it’s Child’s Play (1972) when it’s actually just Child’s Play (1988).
The Boy isn’t atrocious, but neither is it any good. Put that on your poster #theboymovie. Like many horror films, it might have worked as a short story. But as a single gag stretched over 100 minutes? Oh boy.