- RatedPG13 /GenreThriller
You really want this movie to scare you until you'll rush to return your Barbie doll to Toys R Us.
Who isn't spooked by a creepy doll, right?
Oh, sorry, the people in Thailand who feed, dress and buy plane tickets for those Luk Thep “spirit dolls” apparently aren't.
Basically, ‘The Boy’, directed by William Brent Bell (‘The Devil Inside’), builds up the requisite horror chills – jumps, bumps, odd sounds and a hundred questions about why angmohs never ever have super-bright HDB ceiling lighting in their badly lit homes?
But it then overturns all that hard work when it chickens out on its own supernatural premise.
Now, a horror film involving Chucky's freako English cousin and especially kids can be truly scary (see 2007's Spanish chiller, ‘The Orphanage’).
If only this flick had the nerve to go all the way down the ghostly route.
I won't dwell on this too much because you might wanna throw me into a dustbin like a rag doll for giving the twist away.
The doll here is the super creepy type with the blank porcelain face that just keeps staring directly at you no matter how and where you look at it.
The house is an isolated Downton Creepy country manor in England with old wooden panels, overly dark corridors, spooky attic and, of course, the staircase which you know always leads to really bad things upstairs.
Forget about calling for help while you're fleeing in a panic too.
Except for a land line, there's no 4G signal for mobile phones; only ZG – zero G.
And the girl home alone here is played by Lauren Cohan, who's better known as Maggie Greene, the babe of that Asian dude, Glenn, in ‘The Walking Dead’.
Okay, you must have seen this chick kick zombie butt in that TV series.
She isn't going to be freaked out by some damn haunted doll, right?
Actually, at first, she bloody well is.
Who wouldn't be when that creepo thing named Brahms – who the hell names a doll “Brahms”? – keeps looking at her, pops up from place to place, and seems to make a lot of sudden noises, including blasting classical music full-on ear-splitting loud when it's angry?
I mean, this doll is big-time pissed off when it's being neglected, isn't fed, isn't read a bedtime story, isn't hugged or cuddled with TLC. That's “toy” loving care, by the way.
Greta (Cohan), newly arrived in a foreign land as a nanny from America, is weirded out by the strange elderly Brit couple, the Heelshires (Jim Norton and Diana Hardcastle), who treats the doll as though it's their living child since their real child died long ago in a suspicious fire.
It's always like this with horror back stories – everybody has a hidden, tragic, unspeakable skeleton somewhere, including Greta herself who's skittish and vulnerable trying to put an abusive ex-boyfriend-stalker behind her.
The Heelshires have a list of strict, must-do rules for the nanny such as feeding the doll, reading poetry to it, giving it music lessons and so on which would unnerve anybody like a third nipple.
“Be good to him and he'll be good to you,” the couple instructs Greta ominously before she breaks all those silly rules.
Oh, you know the Brits, right?
They're eccentric in ways essentially peculiar ….. like understanding cricket.
When the couple hightails off for a holiday, Greta's left all alone in that big spooky house with Brahms and his unmoving face and even with that, you know that he digs her since she's pretty hot and will later be even hotter when she's locked up in the attic uncovering more dark secrets wrapped in only a bath towel.
No self-respecting horror movie will forego a chance to get a babe dripping wet with fear, I tell you.
Anyway, the only person Greta can call for help is Malcolm (‘Hellboy's’ Rupert Evans), the handy grocery boy, who shows up occasionally to deliver fruits and goods and generally wanna taste the big cute apple all chilling alone right there, if you get what I mean.
At which point, this movie takes an interesting turn as Greta starts to realise that the doll might truly be possessed and actually starts to fulfil the to-do list by treating Brahms exactly like a real person.
Man, you think this movie is turning quite happily into BHSN – British Horror Story: Nutcase – and you wanna go to its Annabelle's-haunted-boyfriend conclusion just to find out how they're going to end this whole thing.
I like this angle because, seriously, when was the last time you saw the tacit acceptance of ghosts as a fact of life in am-I-going-bat-crazy horror flicks?
Then this story loses its nerve and cops out with an ending which comes from people watching ‘The Hills Have Eyes’ too many times.
I think the average eccentric Brit couple oozing dramatic seriousness with a doll for a son don't really wish to be too silly.
Ghost in a horror movie?
Simply isn't the right spirit, old boy.