The Boy – 2016
Director William Brent Bell
Screenplay Stacey Menear
Starring Lauren Cohan, Rupert Evans, Jim Norton, Diana Hardcastle, Ben Robson
Everyone needs a friend like Binage. Someone who is as eager to see awesomely bad horror films and is just as disappointed as you when the film is a little better than expected. I have been seeing films with my dear friend for over 1/4 a century now, after we met while working our way through college at a – you guessed it – video store. We differed on some of our movie tastes. I don’t know if anyone will ever like John Sayles as much as I do. We are sympatico where it counts though. From Warlock to Cloverfield and back to Bell’s own awful The Devil Inside, if it’s horror and not that good, we’ll be there. To paraphrase the late great Gerry Rafferty, Binage has been as constant as the northern star. In this case it’s a bright light that shines over dim movie selections. The Boy, bad by most standards, is good enough for us.
The story, like many of its kind, is a mish mash of ideas from other horror films; some good, some bad. Cohan is Greta, a girl on the run from her past, who ends up a caretaker and house sitter of sorts. She is watching a house that looks old and well kept despite having been involved in a major fire in the early nineties. With the house, she has agreed to act as nanny for the owners’ young boy, Brahms, which is by all appearances a strange looking glass boy doll.
The boy’s mother (Hardcastle, looking like Judy Dench gone slightly mad) goes over the child’s routine while the child’s father (Norton) looks all discombobulated. Is there something going on below the surface, sure. She asks one the family’s grocery boy, Malcom (Evans) and he gives her a little of the backstory. He makes it clear that there may be more to the story, but it’s hard to tell what is real and what is stuff of legend. We can bet that we will be learning more about the legends as the plot demands.
As soon as the parents take off, giving every indication that something is horribly wrong, Greta soon places the doll off to the side with a blanket over his head. I will give anyone 3 guesses what happens to the blanket.
The development of the mood within the house and its inhabitants takes some time to develop and then it’s almost like the filmmakers got bored and decided it was time for Greta to fall off the deep end…just a little.
From here the story pretty much hits all of the standard notes, with a big loud thud, in case nuance isn’t your thing when it comes to movie watching. It’s a delightful thud at times, depending on who’s knocking on the walls.
Cohan is one of the most beautiful women on any screen these days. Most geeks, like Binage and yours truly, find her to be stunning and quite accessible. This is mainly because she fell for one of the us (Glenn) on The Walking Dead. She can see the cool guy beneath the surface of the dweeb. Her acting is not necessarily anything brilliant, but she is good enough to keep things rolling. When she gets on with Malcom, we definitely feel that Glenn thing once more, even if she has more quirk turns than the Edie’s – big and little – of Grey Gardens.
That one can set their watch to each of the big moments of the film is okay. This movie knows what it wants to be. Based on the ending and the amount of money it made being the only horror film out at this time of year, there is a good chance we will see several cheap Brahms sequels in the near future. Well, Binage and I will probably see them. And that is fine with me.
(** out of *****)