The Boy (2016)
The scariest thing about The Boy is how much potential it wastes, foolishly abandoning a horror direction that was eerie, supernatural, and with one leg rooted in a psychological breakdown, and instead cheerfully dives headfirst into an unwanted new direction of cheap campy thrills. I haven’t seen a decent movie unravel with this high-speed velocity and tone-shift since Danny Boyle’s Sunshine, an intelligent sci-fi vision that decided, hey, let’s just make the entire final act a slasher movie in space. The Boy is about an American nanny who travels abroad to care for an elderly couple’s young son Brahms, a son who happens to be a porcelain doll. There are rules to be followed and consequences if they are disobeyed. I liked that our heroine (Lauren Cohan, The Walking Dead) doesn’t try and ignore what she’s seeing for a majority of the movie and instead embraces the unusual circumstances, testing Brahms and discovering more. It kept the film moving in more engaging directions rather than denying the obvious and padding out its run time. I wish that the script opened up more about the domestic violence that haunts our heroine, literally and figuratively, but for a solid hour I was fairly entertained by the supernatural parlor games and lead performance by Cohan. Then the last act occurred, which just swiped away all the good will. I groaned aloud when the shift happened. I won’t go into detail but suffice to say it feels distinctly like two different movies clumsily grafted onto one another at the behest of exec. What once could be excused or forgiven in a supernatural realm cannot when trying to ground the story in reality, and it only unleashes a horde of nagging questions that don’t add up, especially concerning Brahm’s parents and the implications of its ending. The Boy is a cautionary tale about leaving well enough alone, understanding the strengths of your spooky story and tone, and committing to the best idea rather than one that “surprises” while laying waste to your larger story.
Nate’s Grade: C