The Boy will pleasantly surprise and then hugely disappoint in equal measure. It is a rare horror movie which has a very clever premise, one with plenty of potential, and then manages to deliver on that potential… somewhat.
Those that go into The Boy expecting anything like that other creepy doll movie, Annabelle, will be shocked at how different this is. This is about a doll which seems to be “alive” and slowly terrorises it’s “babysitter,” played by The Walking Dead’s Lauren Cohan. There are also plenty of moments which will shock audiences, obvious, jump-horror scares that have become the Hollywood horror norm. There is also a deeper mystery here though.
To go into too much is to unnecessarily spoil the film but there is a reveal at the end of the first act which will shock many horror fans. It feels like the mystery has been solved by the end of the first act and in a plot move which could very easily have under-cut the tension, it actually manages to increase it, adding more questions than it has answered and hanging a very creepy and unsettling feeling across the movie.
This is where The Boy will shock many. It is a clever twist on the “possessed doll” story which has been done many times before. The first “reveal” will sideswipe the audience but unfortunately seems to have sideswiped the writers too because then the film struggles to maintain the tone and effect it so successfully created.
Like any good horror movie, or any good movie generally, the story needs to take an unexpected and twisted turn and a third act shocking scene, involving the doll itself and crazed ex-boyfriend played by Ben Robson, sets off what seems to be the finale the film deserves. However, as clever as this moment seems to be, the film doesn’t know what to do when all the cards are dealt and what was a very clever horror movie, full of tension and suspense, becomes another generic, creepy-house chase movie.
The ending is also frustratingly ambiguous. Leaving “open-endings” occasionally works really well but at other times it screams of sequel bait or worse, desperate writing. Here it adds to the poor finale which dampens what was a great build-up.
Overall, The Boy begins in an unusual way for a horror film and reveals its greatest mystery almost immediately. What follows is a creepy tale which holds tension really well as it unfolds. After the second twist, the finale becomes too generic and what has been successful before is overshadowed.
Rating – 3.5
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)