HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: The Boy
HTS Overall Score:69
PG-13 horror movies are always a tough sell for this wizened horror fanatic. There’s a few interesting and scary ones in the mix, but a lack of gore and reticence to push the boundaries of taste make them feel very tame compared to the stuff I grew up with in the 80s and 90s. That’s not to say that a horror movie needs tons of gore and lack of taste, but a horror movie is intended to be SCARY, or make your skin crawl. “The Boy” is just another in a long list of movies that do neither. That and chalk it up to another fact. There’s not a WHOLE lot that can be done with the possessed evil doll shtick. “The Conjuring” did rather well, but was luckily in that R rating and happened to have some really good directing. “Annabelle” wasn’t great, but was at least palatable, but REALLY was starting to show the stress cracks in the evil doll routine. “The Boy” just completely bottoms out as a movie that is devoid of suspense, story and anything resembling creativity or “horror” about it. By the end of the 98 minute jump scare film I was just thankful that the credits were finally upon us before the boredom killed me (unlike the evil killer in the film).
Greta Evans (Lauren Cohen) is a young American woman who packs up her bags and moves across the pond to England, where she takes up the position as Nanny for a wealthy English couple named the Heellshires. Once there Greta learns that the job is a bit different than what she was expecting. The “boy” that she was supposed to be caring for turns out to be an inanimate doll. It seems that 20 years ago the Heellshire’s lost their young child Brahms to fire on his 8th birthday and have transposed their love for their child into the doll. As delusional as they might be, the Heelshire’s seem to be a genuinely kind couple and Greta REALLY is in need of a new start after having to leave her abusive boyfriend, Cole (Ben Robson). The Heelshires immediately leave on holiday after Greta arrives and leaves her with strict instructions on how to take care of the “boy”. Immediately throwing the rules to the side, Greta does her best to keep herself occupied during her employer’s absence, only to find out that the doll has its own little secret.
Thinking herself mad, Greta employs the help of the town grocer. A good looking man by the name of Malcolm (Rupert Evans) who immediately takes a shine to the American. Both are convinced of the doll’s supernatural properties, but can’t seem to agree on the nature of the spirit. Is it Brahm? Is it a ghost? Or is it something worse? Something much worse? Charged with caring for the boy. Greta may just not realize yet how deep she’s gotten herself into, and just how much it will take to pull her from the prison that she’s been caught in.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=69961[/img]“The Boy” once again proves that a creepy concept doesn’t always end up actually BEING creepy. The film is a slow burn horror that really is just a bit TOO slow and short on the scares. Like most PG-13 movies in the genre (and many R rated ones too I might add), “The Boy” relies way too much on jump scares, but ironically so few jump scares that I actually even forgot that it was a horror movie at times. There is no tension between “Brahms” and Greta at all. Even when he was showing up in odd places with Greta out there wasn’t’ even a semblance of tension or fright. Instead I was trying to cover my yawns and giggles with the back of my hand, just hoping that we would get to the good stuff. Sadly that point never comes, and even the slightly off beat ending wasn’t enough to raise more than an eyebrow before sinking back into the chair and waiting for the credits to finally role.
The actors aren’t actually bad here. It’s the writing’s fault (and maybe some direction too I might add), as you can tell that they ARE trying to emote. However being hamstrung to crummy writing keeps them constrained way more than they should have. The opening bit with the Heelshire’s and Greta’s introduction is truly creepy and well done, but once the hammy dialog starts up there’s really no saving the movie. The lack of psychological play here really was a detriment as well. There’s some really interesting psychological horror that could have gone on between the doll and the humans, but instead it almost feels like we’re watching a parody movie instead. With jump scares that scare no one, and a complete lack of any sort of tension throughout the film.
Rated PG-13 for violence and terror, and for some thematic material
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=69969[/img]While the movie is no Oscar winning experience, the 2.40:1 AVC encoded Blu-ray shows us a nearly immaculate looking transfer. The slightly gothic and haunting looking cinemascape is dimly lit, with all sorts of earthy looking colors and grey shadows sticking heavily to the old English mansion. There’s a bit of digital noise in the dimmest of scenes, but other than that the digital transfer looks incredibly well defined and almost filmic in nature. Colors are mildly saturated, with blooming whites in the outdoor daylight bits and shadow detail that is really a nice sight to behold. Facial structure and details look fantastic, with individual hairs on the face showing up extremely well, and fibers on jacket coats standing out against the grey background. Overall, a very beautiful looking transfer.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=69977[/img]The 5.1 DTS-HD MA track is the only audio experience on the disc, and it sounds almost flawless. “The Boy” opens up with a very varied sounding scene, with a hot use of surround activity in the English manor and deep bass perpetuating itself throughout the 98 film. Dialog is strong and clean with good center channel localization and is balanced very evenly with the very soft sounds coming from other 4 main channels. Surrounds are exceptional vibrant, with all sorts of little sounds trickling in from the sides, while the LFE remains lurking behind a corner. Leaping out to pounce on the listener during a more intense moment with waves of bass that rattle the doors in your house. Whether it be from the simple sounds of footsteps on wood flooring, or the sound of a car door slamming, “The Boy’s” immersive experience is incredible to hear and does lend itself well for the genre.
• No Special Features Included
“The Boy” is mired down by a complete lack of artistic direction, and once again proves my theory right about evil possessed dolls and their future in the horror industry. Being a slow burn, it doesn’t have the same frightening and cheesy fun loving nature of the “Chucky” films, or even “The Conjuring”, instead content to really do nothing but chew on a few subjects of the WHY this abomination was created. A few bits of sloppy writing make you wonder at people’s motivations after the final reveal, and even the end “fight” of the movie doesn’t make you feel like there’s anything really important at stake. The audio and video are the stars of the movie, with stellar encodes on both accounts, but the extras are nonexistent. Sadly I have to say that “The Boy” is really not worth looking into unless you HAVE to watch a movie and nothing else is on the TV. Skip It.
Starring: Lauren Cohan, Rupert Evans, James Russell
Directed by: William Brent Bell
Written by: Stacey Menear
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1
Runtime: 98 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: May 10th 2016
Buy The Boy On Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Skip It
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