The Boy (2016) – or rather: The “Boy”

As with many horror movies, critics weren’t actually raving about this one but Lauren Cohan and a kinda creepy doll were enough for me to take a peek.

Greta (Lauren Cohan) has applied as a nanny for an old couple in rural England and has been invited for an interview. As she arrives, she is received by a very grumpy old woman, the mother of Brahms. When the couple finally introduce her to their son, “he” is revealed to be a porcelain doll. She thinks they are kidding but they are dead serious. Anyhow, she accepts this weird job (How hard could it possibly be to watch a doll?) and is told about the many nannies who have been rejected by Brahms (Dafuq?) and about the many rules she has to adhere to. The parents go on their vacation. Or so Greta thinks. They actually write a farewell note and commit suicide.

Initially, Greta behaves very understandably and does not give a rat’s ass about the rules. Unfortunately, strange things start to happen then. I was surprised that the movie manages to create such an uncomfortable atmosphere in the deserted mansion with this creepy doll and it was pretty gripping.

Copyright: STX Productions (Photo: David Bukach)

After these incidents, I would have thought: Well, let’s better play ball; Greta, however, doesn’t and slowly drifts off towards insanity. She befriends the delivery boy (Rupert Evans) and tries to convince him that weird stuff is happening and also wants to find out more about the real child Brahms. Up to this point, the movie was pretty good.

Then comes a lull in the middle third as it builds up a backstory around Brahms as a child and Greta, creating a pseudo-connection between the two that was a real stretch. Despite working as an explanation, the resolution was pretty stupid because it felt incongruous and as if the writers really wanted to have a twist for the twist’s sake. As a result, The Boy is an alright scary movie, with its strengths lying in the atmosphere and the lead role. However, it doesn’t add anything new to the genre and will hence not appeal to genre fans; occasional watchers of horror movies might be entertained better.


shorter German version:

Mit geringen Erwartungen aufgrund mauer Kritiken habe ich mir den Film eigentlich nur wegen Lauren Cohan angeguckt und wurde etwas überrascht, weil der Film eine ziemlich unangenehme Atmosphäre aufbauen kann und mich so ganz gut gepackt hat. Am Anfang fragt man sich nur, was mit den alten Leuten nicht stimmt, passen einige vermeintlich unerklärliche Dinge, die die Puppe immer gruseliger werden lässt. In Kombination mit der abgeschiedenen Villa baut sich hier ein konstantes Unwohlsein beim Zuschauer auf. Man kann sich ganz gut mit ihr identifizieren, am Anfang dachte man, pfeif auf die Vorgaben, später: Okay, ich mach diesen Quatsch besser doch mit. Cohan spielt dieses leichte Abdriften Richtung Wahnsinn ganz gut, sodass die ersten 30,40 Minuten ganz gut waren. Im mittleren Drittel wird der Film etwas langwierig und baut auch eine Hintergrundgeschichte um Brahms als Kind und Greta auf, die alles irgendwie pseudo-schicksalhaft machen soll. In Kombination damit fand ich die Auflösung dann irgendwie blöd, weil es zwar als Erklärung funktioniert, aber irgendwie unpassend wirkte und als sei es nur um des Twists willen eingebaut. Die finalen 20 Minuten sind dann wieder recht spannend, sobald man das mal akzeptiert hat, sodass insgesamt ein passabler Gruselfilm mit funktionierender Atmosphäre dabei rauskommt, der das Rad nicht neu erfindet und daher Genrefans wohl eher weniger geben wird, aber Gelegenheitsguckern halbwegs gefallen könnte.

Images taken from, © by STX Productions

Title image: © STX Productions (Photo: David Bukach)


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