Among other gems, Brahms the haunted doll makes Lauren Cohan a PB&J sandwich.
By Amy Lukac (East Stroudsburg University)
In The Boy, 2016’s first intentional horror film, Lauren Cohan (best known for her role as Maggie in The Walking Dead) plays a young woman named Greta who is paid to nanny for an older couple in a remote English village.
Greta uses the opportunity to make money and get away from drama back home. How she got a job in another country remains unexplained, and there is conveniently no Internet, television or cell phone service.
As she wanders through the beautiful walls of the castle-like home, the parents of the 8-year old boy Brahms (wtf with the name?) meet Greta and introduce her to the “boy,” as well as the rules she has to follow while taking care of him.
The boy isn’t exactly the rosy-cheeked child she had imagined, but instead a porcelain-cheeked doll. You later come to discover that the doll was a stunt double/stand-in for the parents’ little boy that died in a fire 20 years ago.
And although the doll was convincingly creepy, I laughed during most of the movie. The old couple, the Heelshires (Jim Norton, Diana Hardcastle), seemed completely crazy carrying the disturbing life-sized doll around. Not only did they look insane—they also sounded ridiculous, speaking to the doll as if it were alive and calling each other “mommy” and “daddy.”
With nothing to do in the secluded area, the hunky grocery boy (or man) Malcolm, played by Rupert Evans, comes to Greta’s rescue in more ways than just satisfying her boredom.
Anyone could probably guess what happens next. The doll starts to leave hints around the house that he is alive and Greta starts to think she’s going insane. The blanket she covers Brahms with ends up on the floor, her shoes go missing, all of her clothes are gone when she gets out of the shower and she can hear footsteps.
At this point you know something has to happen for Greta to know she’s not going nuts and that the doll isn’t just a doll.
I assumed that this important revelation would come in the form of her waking up to the doll standing over her, but no. Instead, the drugged out Pinocchio makes her a PB&J sandwich and leaves it outside her door.
The doll’s Sour Patch Kid attitude makes you wonder if The Boy is a horror movie or a Disney Channel morality tale.
Now that Greta knows the thing is “alive,” she comes up with a plan to persuade Malcolm to believe her. After little creepy Brahms passes the test, the two of them try to move on and follow the list of rules that were left for Greta.
The strange family’s attempts at a Rockwellian home life meant they had figured out how to take care of the hollow child without too much unpleasantness. Unfortunately, Greta’s drama at home, her stalker ex-boyfriend Cole (Ben Robson), shows up at the house intent on bringing her back home with him.
The director, William Brent Bell, made a decent attempt at a horror movie. The audience, including myself, jumped more than once, and I’m sure a lot of children decided that night to stop sleeping with their dolls.
Still, I wish there were some more horror in Brahms. I wanted to see some Chucky shit go down, but in the end, the reason for some of the things that happened made sense.
The end of the movie also totally lacked an ending. Clearly there’s room left for a sequel, but the fate of Greta and Malcolm remains unanswered. Do they talk to the police? Do they go totally nuts and end up in a psych ward? Who knows.
The movie wasn’t awful, but it was as ridiculous as you probably imagined. It had some moments, a few hair-standing scenes, some corny comic relief and then a twist. Pretty standard horror film frame.
Lauren Cohan shines as the protagonist, bringing sanity to the movie with her character’s mysterious story and an interesting character turn midway through the second act. And let’s not forget—eye candy. Other than that, the movie could have lived up to its titular genre a little more than it did.
Of course every scary movie has the same cliché scenes and tones, and The Boy managed to hit a lot of them: the stormy night, the shower scene, creepy dark hallways in a very big house, a creepy attic, secret passageways and a child’s laugh echoing in the house were all present and accounted for. The only thing missing was a scene with Brahms creepily running down the hallway.
I’ll admit to being freaked out a few times, but aside from laughing at the man a few seats down from me scarfing his popcorn like he just escaped prison, the rest of my snickering was aimed at the movie. If you’re looking for more laughter than nightmares, The Boy is for you.