The Attic: ‘The Boy’ Film Review
Welcome to The Attic, remember the rules!
The Boy is a film that was released about a year ago, in early 2016, and ever since I first saw the trailer I knew this was one I really wanted to see. Starring Lauren Cohan (fan-favorite Maggie on The Walking Dead) alongside Rupert Evans (John Myers, Hellboy), this film is centered around an American woman, Greta, who has taken a babysitting job in the UK. She has a rough past, and is trying to escape the emotional trauma she has been through.
I loved the set design; the home is gothic and old fashioned, yet not too large or overdone, it is a great setting for a horror movie. When Greta arrives, she meets Malcolm, the local “grocery boy,” a man who delivers food to the home every week. He is sweet, friendly, and quite flirty with the new arrival. It is a nice anchor to have a more modern person for Greta in this house that bodes no internet or any other connection to the outside world besides a telephone.
Next are the parents: Mr. and Mrs. Heelshire. They seem strange, from another time, but welcoming enough, and things only get weirder when she is introduced to Brahms, the boy she is there to take care of. If you have seen any trailers for this movie, then you no doubt saw this coming, but Brahms is notable for one simple reason: he is a doll. While immediately turned off and confused, Greta puts on a smile and agrees to do what the parents request of her. There is a list of rules that are required to be followed each day, in order to keep Brahms happy. She promises the Heelshires that she will do so, and treat the boy as her own.
After they leave for a trip, she is left alone with the doll, and immediately covers it with a blanket, admitting she is creeped out by it. Now that she is free to go about doing what she wishes, Greta attempts to pass the time by reading magazines that her family has sent her, and sipping wine. Malcolm asks her to go out for the night to spend some time together and get her out of the house for a while. She agrees, but while she is getting ready, things with Brahms go from strange to downright scary as Greta tries to determine what is going on.
I want to keep this review spoiler free, so I won’t go into details, but I’d like to go over some more obvious points without going into plot details. Brahms was a real, living, boy once. He was just 8 years old when he died in a fire. After that, for the last twenty years, his parents have cared for the doll and treated it as if it was their son. Greta learns this very early on, and due to her own traumatic past, she begins to feel sorry for the family. As more things happen in the house, she loses to lose her fear of the doll, and instead takes on a motherly role to him. She follows the rules and begins to do exactly as the parents requested.
Is Greta’s tragic past getting in the way of her thinking logically? Is the doll truly possessed with the spirit of the boy who died so many years ago? If so, is he simply a lost soul that wants to be taken care of or does he have more sinister plans for her?
These questions are all answered, but I don’t want to spoil them for anyone because I had a fantastic time watching this film. There were a couple of jump scares that really got to me, but they don’t rely too heavily on this tactic. Filled with tension, this movie also knows how to build up the fear factor without throwing everything in your face. I greatly enjoyed watching this movie on a dark, rainy morning, and I definitely recommend a viewing to my fellow horror fans. However…
I would be remiss not to mention the fact that, for me, the last twenty minutes were very disappointing. When it comes to this genre especially, I see the ending as vital to pulling together a story. While they did tie up loose ends and explain everything that has been going on, I felt disappointed in what route they decided to go with it. It felt downright weird, stupid, and even confusing for me as I watched this unravel. It did leave me with a few questions, and I’m not quite sure what the answers are, but overall the big picture was explained. Perhaps there are loopholes or perhaps I overlooked a couple of details, but ultimately it led me to wishing we had a different ending. I feel like this could have been the awful “alternate ending” on a Blu-Ray that you would laugh at and go “yeah, I’m glad they didn’t stick with that.” But sadly, they did.
It is worth noting that Lauren Cohan really does a fantastic job here, and that is what probably helped me love it as much as I did. Any Walking Dead nerd like myself adores her, and I’m happy to say that she shines in The Boy. Again, I enjoyed the lead-up to the ending so much that I was fully on board. I was engaged, creeped out, and wondering how much the Blu-Ray would cost and how quickly I could get it delivered to my house. I was loving it so much, and considering how hard it is to find a good “possessed doll” film, I was thrilled. But that ending? Well, it left me with the feeling that I might watch it again at some point, but instead of purchasing, I’ll just go watch Annabelle again.