THE BOY (2016)
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Supernatural thriller is OK, but could have benefited from a little more intensity, as it is a bit too laid back for it’s own good. Story finds pretty Greta (Walking Dead’s Lauren Cohan) traveling to the UK to get away from an abusive relationship and landing a job as a nanny for an elderly couple (Jim Norton and Diana Hardcastle) at their large, secluded mansion…never a good sign. She is to watch their son Brahms while they are away on vacation. Greta soon finds that Brahms is actually not a living child but a creepy porcelain doll…another bad sign. As her stay commences, so do strange occurrences, such as things not being where she left them…especially Brahms. She soon discovers the real Brahms was a strange boy who died twenty years ago when he was only eight and might even have possibly killed a friend…internal alarms should be going off at this point. Does the boy’s spirit still inhabit the house and what does it want of Greta?…who, obviously stays.
Flick is well-directed by William Brent Bell (The Devil Inside, Wer) from a script from Stacey Menear and is filled with familiar tropes of similar flicks. These customary ingredients are sometimes used well here, as the film has atmosphere and there are some genuinely spooky moments, but it also fails to really grab us when it needs too. Sometimes Bell guides the proceedings a little too laid back and the film definitely needed more punch in it’s last act. It also loses some steam about two thirds of the way through, instead of picking up momentum which would have been better. It’s in it’s final reel that the film gets most cliché and even a little silly and that would have been fine, if Bell matched it with some real intensity and suspense. He doesn’t. We’ve seen it all before, when we get our big reveal and Bell could have given it far more impact to distract us from the familiarity. It’s not all that shocking when we learn the real secrets behind Brahms and his porcelain stand-in and with some solid suspense and a little more punch to the action, we could have overlooked it and had a better time. As it is, it’s just a routine conclusion to a fairly routine story and it needed a more inventive and gutsy touch to make it work. There is some great cinematography by Daniel Pearl and a spooky score by Bear McCreary to add atmosphere, but the film needs, for lack of a better word, more balls.
The cast are all fine. Lauren Cohan makes a really solid girl-next-door heroine and it’s too bad she’s not given more to do. After the first act her character starts to accept her situation and even takes a liking to the doll…which is a bit hard to swallow. That, of course, is fault of the script not the actress, who plays it well. Jim Norton and Diana Hardcastle make for a creepy old couple as The Heelshire’s. They don’t have much screen time, but are effective in what they do. Rupert Evans is charming as a local delivery man who takes a shine to Greta and Ben Robinson is OK as her generic abusive boyfriend, who we know from the start will show up at some point.
I was never bored here, but was never thrilled either. It was a moderately entertaining diversion with a likable heroine and did have some spooky moments. Overall, it felt like I’ve seen this movie before and more than once and director William Brent Bell didn’t help matters by giving the film a far too subtle approach and doing nothing really interesting with some very familiar plot elements. Worth a look if there is nothing else to watch, or you are a fan of Cohan.
2 and 1/2 Brahms