Screen Squinty’s “The Boy” Review.

Film: The Boy.
Directed by: William Brent Bell.
Released: 2016.
Running Time: 97 min.

This is an American Chinese horror/psychological film directed by William Brent Bell and written by Stacey Delay and staring Lauren Cohan as Greta, a young pretty something who takes a job as a nanny to a creepy doll named Brahms in a creepy house, and gets sucked into the mystery of it all while being haunted by said doll.

The technical aspect of the film was perhaps the strongest part of it, utilizing some clever little transitions between shots here and there such as the transition from the close up of the photo of the little boy then morphing in transition to the doll in the next shot. The utilizing light and shadow was also smartly used in closeups of the doll’s face from time to time, providing this sort of eerie almost organic other-worldliness to the doll.

The film had some decent acting from the lead of Lauren Cohan as Greta, who did a good job in developing something of a believable dynamic with the Brahms doll (at least with what she had to work with) and a decent effort with the leads depiction all together.

Unfortunately though, whatever good qualities can be found in the film it is still hampered by the most important aspect for the film, the story.

Needless to say, there is nothing original about the rather old cliche of a doll as the focal point creep factor, but that in itself isn’t necessarily whats wrong with the film. Any movie can use cliches and still be a good movie as long as how you use them is original as possible, interesting, and clever.

You can tell that this film thought it was doing so, or at least trying to think it was, but it fell through in so many ways.

Certainly the premise can seem a little ridiculous at first glance (which rather appropriately matches peoples reaction to Brahms in the movie) but if the story is given enough time to be properly nurtured, to develop progressively overtime, whittling down Greta’s sense of what is real and what isn’t, then it could have worked. Unfortunately, the film doesn’t take the time to do so.

There is nothing overly internal that is properly developed in the character from the beginning to set her up, and the later revelation of her losing her baby was sort of rushed and just blurted out in a bit of exposition. The character rather readily accepts that Brahms is no ordinary doll, and doesn’t really try to investigate Brahms overmuch other then asking a few questions and looking at some pictures.There is no properly developed mystery, no hook that could keep spectators invested.

Because the story wasn’t properly developed by the time the twist ending happens, there really isn’t anything to support the believably of said twist. It just exists for the sake of it. Had the Greta questioned her own faculties a bit more, or the story took greater advantage of the psychological effects of her own isolation, and given her just a bit more believable skepticism, the twist wouldn’t have been so…there.

Overall, this wasn’t a bad film visually, with some decent cinematography and the doll was reasonably creepy within the cannon of the story and the acting was good (with what they had to work with). But the story is riddled with underdevelopment and rush jobs here and there which made the conclusion weak and dissatisfying and overall…meh.

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