The Boy (2016)

The Boy (2016) movie poster

director William Brent Bell
viewed: 01/23/2016 at AMC Metreon 16, SF, CA

Back when we first saw the trailer for The Boy, my 11 year old daughter said, “We HAVE to see THAT!” and my 14 year old son said, “There’s no way I’m seeing THAT!”

There you go: the parenting economy.

Starring Lauren Cohan, or as we’ve come to know her, “Maggie” from AMC’s The Walking Dead, it’s a strangely contrived story about a young nanny hired by a reclusive English family to care for their “son”, a porcelain-faced doll surrogate for their long-dead son.  She’s taken the job to get away from an abusive boyfriend and starts to wonder if this doll is something more than just a doll.

It’s a nicely shot film, using lots of statuary and taxidermy to haunt most of the film’s frames with human or animal figures, adding to the question of the primary figure in the film.  Cohan’s character isn’t particularly well-developed, even though she’s the main character.  She’s a likable screen presence, though, as is Rupert Evans as the grocery store guy who’d like to take her on a date.

It’s PG-13 horror, quite often derided these days, and rightly so.  At some point PG-13 horror films tried to develop their creepy heebie jeebie qualities forsaking gore and other things that would bump it into R territory.  When done well, this can work, certainly.  But how often is it really done well?  The result is the promise of scares with the absence of them.

My son did sit this one out.  My daughter liked it pretty well, though there is a significant twist that I’ll omit discussing, that raises lots of questions about the whole concept.

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