“Brahms is not like other children.”
Babysitters and nannies don’t always have the most enviable of jobs. They must take care of children who don’t necessarily want to be taken care of, and oftentimes those children can be tiny terrors who will drive one insane. Now, what if your task was simply to watch over and look after the needs of a lifeless doll? Though it may seem strange, it should be rather easy, but in the new film, The Boy, it is anything but.
“It’s like something out of a storybook, isn’t it?”
The Walking Dead’s Lauren Cohan portrays Greta, a woman escaping an abusive boyfriend in the states by coming to England to preside as nanny to an elderly couple’s young boy, Brahms. Turns out Brahms is just a doll, and upon first meeting him, Greta, much like the audience’s reaction, is to laugh. However, Greta soon realizes that this is no joke, and the Heelshires are quite serious in their desire that their boy is well looked after while they make a rare holiday excursion away from home. Apparently, the real Brahms had died in a fire years ago as a child. But, as Mr. Heelshire explains to Greta, “Our son is here. He’s very much with us.” Given a set of rules to follow (Don’t feed him after midnight, Don’t get him wet…..no wait wrong movie. Actually, No guests, Never leave Brahms alone, Clean the rat traps outside), Greta is understandably dismissive and aloof in her initial dealings with the doll. However, during the course of her stay, things aren’t quite as they seem, and as mysterious occurrences begin to take place, she realizes the doll may actually have a life all its own.
“If there’s a spiritual premise in this house, give me a sign.”
The Boy is a film, that upon first impression, looks like it might have a silly, even comical premise. Yet, it turns out to be quite an effective chiller, thanks to deft filmmaking and a winning performance by its lead. As seen a number of times before, horror films featuring a doll can turn out to be quite scary and unsettling, from Trilogy of Terror to Magic to the Chucky films. Here, the film is, at least initially, based more in reality, as we don’t see the Brahms’ doll running around wielding a dagger. However, he is rather unnerving with his lifeless stare, as dolls often are.
The film completely rests upon the shoulders of Lauren Cohan, and she is more than up for the task. Not just gorgeous to look at, Lauren does a superlative job of someone who is getting away from a bad situation and looking for something else in her life. She also does a convincing job of changing her demeanor once her attitude towards Brahms changes, while bringing added depth to her role as we learn more about her past. Credit goes to Lauren and the filmmakers, writer Stacey Menear and director William Brent Bell (Wer, The Devil Inside), for effectively conveying the feelings and sense of helplessness victims of domestic violence go through, and how difficult it can be to get out from under such damaging circumstances. The film also boasts the considerable talents of cinematographer Daniel Pearl (the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, as well as its 2003 remake), and music by Bear McCreary, who also scores The Walking Dead, who add to the eerie setting set up by the British mansion (actually Craigdarroch Castle, in Victoria, British Columbia), where most of the action takes place.
While we wish for Ms. Cohan to remain on The Walking Dead as her character, Maggie Greene, for many more seasons, it is nice to see her on the big screen in a lead role. (She also will be seen as Martha Wayne in the upcoming Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.) It’s interesting that while Lauren was born and spent her early years in Cherry Hill, NJ, moving to England as a young teen, thus, having a British accent in real life, here, she plays an American spending time in the United Kingdom, using a Midwest American accent, differing from her Walking Dead Southern accent. She certainly possesses a lot of talent that goes beyond killing zombies, though, as with most of the cast on The Walking Dead, her acting range on AMC’s hit show isn’t fully appreciated come awards time. While also previously having recurring roles on TV’s Supernatural and The Vampire Diaries, and whether it’s going up against flesh-eating zombies or scary, creepy dolls, the Gore 4 hopes fellow Garden Stater, Cohan, continues in the horror genre for years to come.
— review by Brian de Castro