The Haunted Column | Why 'The Boy' missed the mark despite its creepy doll potential

The Boy
'The Boy' appears to be a missed opportunity that held significant potential for a solid horror film. Photo: IMDb

Hollywood filmmakers have a fascination with eerie dolls, and among their favourites are iconic characters like Chucky and Annabelle. Adding to this sinister doll ensemble is the porcelain doll featured in 'The Boy'. What sets this doll apart from the others is its remarkable innocence. It appears immaculate, well-groomed, and impeccably dressed. However, the true intrigue lies in how its owners perceive it as their son, Brahms, shaping the gripping plot of the movie.

In 'The Boy,' it's not just the horror that intrigues viewers; it's the cleverly crafted twists that elevate the movie. While we may not definitively declare it the finest creepy doll film ever, it undeniably boasts its strengths.

The narrative revolves around Greta (Lauren Cohan), seeking refuge from her abusive boyfriend by accepting a nanny position in England. However, her employers are the elderly Mr and Mrs Heelshire, who entrust her with an unusual duty: caring for their child-sized porcelain doll, Brahms, whom they consider their son. The real Brahms had tragically perished in a fire two decades earlier.

Certainly, 'The Boy' amps up the creepiness factor as Brahms appears to spring to life, exhibiting erratic behaviour when Greta defies his 'parents' wishes. The notion of the doll being possessed becomes increasingly convincing, causing Greta to be genuinely terrified. As the film unfolds, a whirlwind of events ensues, replete with jump scares placed throughout. Initially, these moments work in the movie's favour, but as they become more predictable, their charm gradually wanes.

What's intriguing about the film is that with careful planning and execution, 'The Boy' had the potential for success. However, it falls short due to the overuse of familiar horror tropes. In the past decade, one doll that genuinely terrified audiences is Annabelle. One of the primary reasons for Annabelle's superiority over films like 'The Boy' isn't solely based on her eerie appearance, but rather the meticulously crafted plot that keeps viewers on edge. While Annabelle does include its share of jump scares, the beauty lies in its unpredictability. In contrast, 'The Boy' tends to telegraph its scares, allowing the audience to anticipate them.

Surprisingly, the film's climax, although it may be deemed somewhat cliché by modern standards, emerges as its strongest asset. Lauren Cohan admirably steps out of her comfort zone to portray the vulnerable character of Greta. Most of her scenes involve interactions with the dolls, and she succeeds in making these encounters genuinely convincing.

'The Boy' appears to be a missed opportunity that held significant potential for a solid horror film. It serves as a reminder that thorough research and creative input should be invested in crafting a movie, even when it adheres to a tried-and-true theme.

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