Known for her work in “The Walking Dead,” Lauren Cohan switches to the big screen in “The Boy,” playing a recently hired nanny who is being sent to work for a family in a rural area of the United Kingdom. Her life takes an unexpected turn, though, when the young women, named Greta, finds out that her employers want her to look after a doll.
The problem is that her employers, Mr. and Mrs. Heelshire (Jim Norton and Diana Hardcastle) actually think the doll is their real child Brahms and subsequently, want Greta to treat the object as a real boy, too. While Greta is skeptical at first, strange occurrences start to make her believe there is more to the doll than she initially thought.
While the first act of “The Boy” comes off as a bit silly and hokey because of its obnoxious subject matter, the film does in fact start to get really good in the second act. Despite having a wacky story about a doll that may be alive, the movie is able to build up a pretty solid, creepy atmosphere and it was actually interesting to watch Greta’s character lose her mind because of the doll. Heading into the final act, the film had won me over.
And then the movie got to its climax, where a twist occurs that shattered all of the good will that the first two acts built up and ended with me leaving the theater in utter disappointment. No spoilers here, but I will say that the twist that occurs during the film’s climax removes the creepy atmosphere and the aspects of being a mind bender. It ends up turning the movie into a generic PG-13 horror flick.
To her credit, Cohan does turn in a solid performance. Throughout the course of the picture she really sells the mind twisting that her character is going through because of the situations she is in. While the film’s sloppy ending took away much of what the rest of the film built, there’s no doubt that Cohan’s acting is still a highlight.
The supporting cast was pretty good, too. Hardcastle and Norton of course played their parts as the old couple with something to hide and Rupert Evans is serviceable as the film’s more skeptical character.
For the most part, “The Boy” is fairly well put together. The setting, for example, is creepy and atmospheric. A major flaw, though, is that the movie (like other PG-13 horrors) relies way too heavily on false jump scares.
Despite that flaw, “The Boy,” had something going for itself and it certainly had a good lead actress in Cohan, but that twist toward the end was fatal. It turned what was a cool concept into a forgettable mess. There’s enough here to make it worth a viewing, but not at the theater. 2 out of 5.