The Boy (2016)

TOMATOMETER

Critic Consensus: The Boy could have gone in any number of scary or interesting directions, but instead settles for usual jump scares scattered throughout a pedestrian plot.

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The Boy is a frightening thrill ride directed by William Brent Bell (The Devil Inside) starring Lauren Cohan ("The Walking Dead"). Greta (Cohan) is a young American woman who takes a job as a nanny in a remote English village, only to discover that the family's 8-year-old is a life-sized doll that the parents care for just like a real boy, as a way to cope with the death of their actual son 20 years prior. After violating a list of strict rules, a series of disturbing and inexplicable events bring Greta's worst nightmare to life, leading her to believe that the doll is actually alive.

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Critic Reviews for The Boy

All Critics (61) | Top Critics (8)

There's only so much she can do once the movie around her devolves into the usual barrage of jump scares, but Cohan maintains her composure even as Greta loses hers.

Jan 25, 2016 | Full Review…

[It] aims to set itself squarely in the fictional canon of Chucky and its brethren, but it ends up trying to do so much that it forgets to scare us.

Jan 25, 2016 | Rating: C | Full Review…

"The Boy" didn't screen for critics, but it's actually a pretty sturdy genre effort. Nearly free of gore... [the film] is careful and clever about revealing what Brahms really is, for he's certainly got a mind and will of his own.

Jan 23, 2016 | Rating: 70/100 | Full Review…
TheWrap
Top Critic

It's awkward and strange but never shamelessly over-the-top enough to serve as a guilty pleasure.

Jan 23, 2016 | Rating: 1.5/4 | Full Review…

It ... has enough scary moments to satisfy horror fans, but you're left wondering whether it might have been more disturbing had it stayed on its original path.

Jan 23, 2016 | Full Review…

If only writer Stacey Menear and director William Brent Bell took the very real horrors of domestic abuse as seriously as they do the virtual horror of paranormal activity.

Jan 22, 2016 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Boy

The premise is creepy enough and could have been made into something much better than this stupid horror movie that is so banal, poorly written (the character's motivations are laughable) and full of clichés (does anyone still get scared by those cheap dream scares?)

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

½

All-to-typical cousin of Chucky and Talking Tina, and The Haunting, and Psycho. Oy. Coulda used some better writing. Coulda done some little reaching, but no. Played it safe. A horror film that plays it safe = Ho hum.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

½

The scares are overshadowed by the weak storyline and flakey acting.

Film Crazy
Film Crazy

Super Reviewer

The scariest thing about The Boy is how much potential it wastes, foolishly abandoning a horror direction that was eerie, supernatural, and with one leg rooted in a psychological breakdown, and instead cheerfully dives headfirst into an unwanted new direction of campy cheap thrills. I haven't seen a decent movie unravel with this high-speed velocity and tone-shift since Danny Boyle's Sunshine, an intelligent sci-fi vision that decided, hey, let's just make the entire final act a slasher movie in space. The Boy is about an American nanny who travels abroad to care for an elderly couple's young son Brahms, a son who happens to be a porcelain doll. There are rules to be followed and consequences if they are disobeyed. I liked that our heroine (Lauren Cohan, The Walking Dead) doesn't try and ignore what she's seeing for a majority of the movie and instead embraces the unusual circumstances, testing Brahms and discovering more. It kept the film moving in more engaging directions rather than denying the obvious and padding out its run time. I wish that the script opened up more about the domestic violence that haunts our heroine, literally and figuratively, but for a solid hour I was fairly entertained by the supernatural parlor games and lead performance by Cohan. Then the last act occurred, which just swiped away all the good will. I groaned aloud when the shift happened. I won't go into detail but suffice to say it feels distinctly like two different movies clumsily grafted onto one another at the behest of exec. What once could be excused or forgiven in a supernatural realm cannot when trying to ground the story in reality, and it only unleashes a horde of nagging questions that don't add up, especially concerning Brahm's parents and the implications of its ending. The Boy is a cautionary tale about leaving well enough alone, understanding the strengths of your spooky story and tone, and committing to the best idea rather than one that "surprises" while laying waste to your larger story. Nate's Grade: C

Nate Zoebl
Nate Zoebl

Super Reviewer

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