Kernel Rating (out of 5):
MPAA Rating: PG-13 Length: 97 minutes
Age Appropriate For: 13+. This uninspired horror movie includes pretty much everything typical of the genre: some cursing; adult characters drink and smoke cigarettes; some horizontal kissing on a bed; the mention of a miscarriage; and a variety of violence, including lots of jump scares, implied domestic abuse, characters committing suicide by drowning themselves, a character is murdered with an ice pick, and discussions of past violence, including arson and the murder of a child.
The doldrums of January horror continue with ‘The Boy,’ another subpar genre offering.
By Roxana Hadadi
If you want tired jump scares and an eye-rolling snoozefest of a movie, then “The Boy” is for you. This excruciatingly uninteresting genre film hits theaters only a few weeks after the equally disappointing “The Forest,” and deserves your ignorance just as much as that movie did.
“The Boy” focuses on Greta (Lauren Cohan), an American woman who flees an abusive relationship by taking a job as a nanny for a British family, the Heelshires. (How did she get this job? No explanations are given!) But when she arrives at their estate, she realizes that the child she is supposed to be taking care of, Brahms, isn’t a child at all, but a strangely lifelike porcelain doll.
Creepy? Certainly! But the Heelshires treat Brahms like an actual child, with a fastidious list of rules for Greta to follow regarding his care. Their real son died at 8 years old in a fire, it’s explained and it’s implied that the doll is their replacement. The story is bizarre, but Greta doesn’t have many other options—going back to Montana, where her ex-boyfriend Cole (Ben Robson) is probably searching for her, isn’t a safe choice. So instead, Grata agrees to stick around while the Heelshires leave for an out-of-town vacation.
Thoroughly unsurprisingly, though, when the Heelshires leave, things start getting weird. Brahms seems to move around on his own, showing up in unexpected corners of the house. Greta begins to sense something is amiss. And when Malcolm (Rupert Evans), the family’s grocery delivery man, tells Greta about the history of the real Brahms—that he may have been responsible for the murder of another child—Greta realizes that this nanny gig may be more dangerous than the domestic abuse she left back in Montana.
Weird dolls have been a horror-genre mainstay for decades, but so much of “The Boy” feels like a wasted opportunity. The doll doesn’t really serve any purpose; when the movie’s twist is revealed, it’s obvious how inconsequential the porcelain construction really is. But there are a lot of things about this film that feel inconsequential, like the script—which backs Greta into the corners of “abused woman” and “grieving would-be mother,” neither of which provide her with needed depth or detail—and the villain, who isn’t frightening in the least.
Bland and uninspired, “The Boy” has low-level scares that will barely terrify anyone and a boring plot that offers up few surprises. Skip it.
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