Review of The Boy (2016) by Elizabeth B on 09 Jul 2018
I spend every movie with a haunted or possessed doll veritably begging the doll not to move on camera, as that invariably shatters the illusion. For once, this wish was actually granted, and the result is great fun, although rarely truly frightening.
Well-acted by its lead, Lauren Cohan, The Boy is a moody and unsettling movie with only a few jump-scares and horror that is largely centered on elements more human than supernatural. If I could change one thing, it would be to excise the scene of the Heelshires writing a letter to Brahms and to allow the audience to count down the days with Greta (Cohan) until their return. The inclusion of the letter in the attic could have stood on its own, without that scene, although Greta finding and reading it at that exact moment would likely then have felt like gratuitous tying up of loose ends. Perhaps it would have been better placed after Greta's escape? This placement would also have allowed for a more natural final letter to Brahms. (In the existing letter, Mrs. Heelshire took great pains to be vague about her son's condition for the audience.).
Also appreciated would have been slightly more focus on the oddness of Brahms when he was alive -- I expected more than just the one inconclusive incident described by Malcolm (Rupert Evans) -- as well as any attempt by either Malcolm or Greta to address the situation they believe they're in. Greta is now doing everything Brahms wants, but if she thinks she's living with an honest-to-goodness ghost, why no seance? No attempted exorcism of the doll? Greta seems content to simply wait for the Heelshires to return home, but this is where focus on the passing of time would have helped. Let the Heelshires be late and Greta's peace with the situation start to erode.
Still, this is a very competent movie, effective at what it does, and that Netflix is currently streaming it should certainly be taken advantage of.
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