the boy (2016) review

april 12, 2023

the boy is a movie! before watching it, i thought it'd be a decent supernatural horror movie but boy (haha) was i.. deeply deeply wrong. i didn’t even really want to watch it but unfortunately my family roped me into watching it with them. it's a pg-13 horror movie, and i think that alone says a lot.

man i wonder what this movie is about

boy (2016) is (supposed to be) a horror/thriller directed by william brent bell and written by stacey menear. it follows the story of a nanny named greta evans (lauren cohan) who travels from america to england to look after the child of a wealthy couple living in the countryside. the child turns out to be a creepy life-sized doll, and greta initially believes it's a joke. after breaking a list of strict rules given to her by the couple, she soon discovers that the doll might be more lively than she thought.

the worst

well, i'll start with the most glaring issue… the pacing. it was so horrible that if 20 minutes of the middle were cut out, the movie would've been the exact same. hell, maybe it would've been better. the main problem is that the movie takes too much time trying to scare the audience through shitty jumpscares and bad dream sequences, so a good chunk of the middle is spent on moving the doll around instead of advancing the plot. the movie makes a lame attempt to keep the audience's attention by throwing exposition around, but it was still incredibly slow and boring.

speaking of the "jumpscares," they were horribly set up and failed to make me even the slightest bit jumpy or scared. there was no tension before, and the most it does is play a loud noise when something kind of unexpected happens. it shouldn’t even be considered a horror movie because it was barely scary, just cliche and bad. the dream sequences i mentioned earlier served no purpose to the plot or atmosphere and were just generally a waste of time. you learn and gain nothing, and there isn’t just one, but two of them! i feel like the only way this movie can be truly horrifying is if you have a fear of dolls. it sometimes makes use of the uncanny valley, but not as much as it could have.

another thing that irks me is the way the characters were written… they weren’t written too badly or anything, they were just incredibly flat. malcolm has almost no personality traits aside from being the love interest, along with being the main source of information for the weird doll boy, brahms. i guess he’s also nice to greta but again, that’s just him being the love interest. greta herself wasn’t very interesting too, which is worse because she’s the main character. i will admit that she’s a little bit more fleshed out than malcolm, though.

(SPOILERS FOR THE ENDING; if you for some reason still plan to watch this movie after reading my complaints, skip this next part… or click it to read it!)

now, the ending: how do i begin? first of all, it was quite jarring to go from a relatively slow paced middle to the chaos of the last 20-ish minutes. i guess you could argue that it was kind of built up starting from when cole, greta’s abusive asshole ex, appears at the house. the ending itself wasn’t actually too bad, and i thought that the reveal that brahms was living in the walls was interesting. the main thing i don’t like is that this reveal diminishes the supernatural aspect of the movie. the movie continually enforces the concept that the doll is haunted by brahms, and i’m not exactly a fan of movies throwing stories away in favor of plot twists. (SIDE NOTE: they actually make the doll haunted or something in the second movie and that literally makes no sense???) it changes the tone of everything, and i wouldn’t be as upset if they hinted at it at least half-way through. i just want some sign that the situation wasn’t as supernatural as she believed it to be. sure, there are small hints throughout the story: the fact that brahms (the doll) needs loud music so brahms (the creep) can hear, the fact that he can only move when no one is looking at him, or how the heelshires catch rats so they don’t find a home in their mansion walls… but those things are only realized after the viewer watches the big reveal.

plot twists should never be completely surprising: if at least one person in the movie theater isn’t suspecting it, then it isn’t a good plot twist. there are so many little things that if they were just changed or fixed, the movie would’ve ended up a lot better than it did.

the less bad (aka, the "good" parts)

i will admit, the initial concept is kind of cool at first… and i did enjoy the supernatural stuff until the ending. i guess the acting wasn’t horrible. the style of the movie was like your average horror movie, but the composition wasn’t anything new. i’m sorry, i just can’t find many positive things to say about this movie.

"tl;dr is it good enough to watch for shitty movie night"

no. this movie is barely interesting or bad-in-a-good-way enough to watch for the laughs. it's just really boring, and it makes me kind of sad because it could've been so much more than what the final product ended up being. there was potential to make something really cool and scary, and maybe under a different director or studio or whatever, it could've come to fruition. this movie is no more than 1.5 out of 5 stars, and i'm surprised it was only 97 minutes because it felt like it was over 2 hours. skip this one, watch re-animator or tusk instead if you’re looking for horror movie laughs.