Although featuring a creepy doll in a horror film is a sure fire way to produce scares, The Boy comes across as a pale imitation of other films that have done this, failing to live up to their high standards. The scares are few and far between and without giving anything away, the ending to the film has to be one of the biggest cop outs in history.
We start the movie with Greta (Lauren Cohan) who takes a job as a nanny in a large, remote English country house. Tasked with looking after the couple’s 8 year old son, Greta learns their son actually died 20 years ago and she has to take care of a life-size replica doll. Tasked with following a strict list of instructions, Greta learns that if you break those rules, disturbing and inexplicable things will happen. The story itself is an interesting spin on a tired genre and for large parts of the film, Lauren is the sole actress while acting alongside the doll.
The film has two big problems though. The first is the film’s inability to reward watchers with a satisfying pay off for sticking with it until the end. Most of the film teases the doll moving around by itself but we never actually see the doll move, at all. The second is how cliche the film is. With horror, its increasingly difficult to sustain a level of believable scares and tension and throughout the film, it borrows heavily from Annabelle. The Boy feels like a pale imitation in comparison and ironically the one original moment in the film is the horrendous ending which just doesn’t work at all. I won’t divulge what happens of course but it does tease at a sequel which will probably never come.
Having said all that, there are a few creepy moments and The Boy does have a feeling of dread hanging over it for large patches of the film which helps to immerse you into the film. Its just a shame that all of this comes to nothing by the end of the film. Lauren Cohan does an okay job portraying Greta but her performance never comes across as anything but cliche female horror victim. Her screams and mannerisms are believable enough but again, its not original or memorable enough in a jam packed genre full of cliches.
Overall then, The Boy is a disappointing attempt at sparking a new doll franchise. The overhanging tension through the film is never paid off and as such, makes most of the film meaningless. Its a disappointing film and with one of the worst endings in horror film history its hard to recommend this one when others have done this with more skill and scares.