The Boy (2016)
The opening of this film is straight out of a Hammer House of Horror episode; on a cold winter’s day a taxi meanders to an isolated and historic country house in the middle of nowhere, a young American nanny in the backseat. The ‘house’ is rather like a castle and has a little more than a whiff of Del Toro’s “Crimson Peak” (2015) about it.
Lauren Cohan plays the nanny who must look after a porcelain doll, not an actual boy. You can guess where the destination is and the unoriginality in the script is not something you’d have an easy time vouching for, but this is not a repulsive movie. The gothic theme is kept up for the entire movie and with its lack of violence and disdain for vulgarity, this is a muted and thoughtful horror picture. Jim Norton and Diana Hardcastle are well-matched – if stereotyped eccentrics – in the role of the elderly couple who dote on their doll.
It’s also true that at times “The Boy” evokes the chill factor of the ventriloquist tale in the yet-to-be-bettered “dead of night” (1945) but unforgivably throws everything away in the final 15 minutes as the screenplay dives knee-deep into standard slasher fare.
There are other positives, particularly Daniel Pearl’s brilliant cinematography, and stand-out sequences such as a neatly-orchestrated shower scene and a pitifully-sad double suicide. But in a mystery film – which essentially is what “The Boy” is – the reveal of what’s behind the curtain is all-important and here it’s sadly just a run-of-the-mill psychopath that we’ve seen so many times before.
Hotdog rating: 4.5/10