Some movies are so bad they are good. Some are so bad they are bad. Then there are those that are so truly terrible they make you want to go back in time and scrub the movie from your memories. The kind of movie that gets worse the more you think about it. The Boy is just such a movie. To explain why will require spoiling several plot points. Believe me, this is a public service. If just one person doesn’t watch this movie because of my sacrifice it will have been worth it.
Greta (Lauren Cohan) answers an ad to be nanny to a boy in a rambling English countryside manor. When she arrives and meets the eccentric older couple she learns the “boy” in question is actually a quite creepy and life like doll. The old people treat the doll as their son, calling him Brahms, and insisting he is still with them. They put it to bed, have a whole bunch of rules like reading to the doll, feeding it, etc. It’s ridiculous and stupid. All of this is played with absolute solemnity and Greta, in need of a job and trying to start over after escaping an abusive ex, takes the gig. On their way out the door the matriarch embraces Greta and says “I’m sorry.” Yeah, that’s not sinister at all lady.
Despite a lengthy list of rules to follow, and keep in mind she’s making a few thousand a month to basically house sit a doll, Gretta gets up the next day, throws a blanket over the doll, and reads fashion magazines while drinking wine apparently until nightfall. Greta is a bit of an asshole. Brahms thinks so too, and starts moving stuff around, lures and traps Greta in the attic, and generally freaks Greta out until she starts following the Rules. Greta’s only contact is with the local delivery guy, Malcolm (Rupert Evans), who checks in on her. Malcolm humored the old couple with the Brahms thing, but after he sees Brahms seem to move around on his own Malcolm is convinced too. Rather than getting out of there Greta’s maternal instincts kick in (she lost a baby after her ex, Cole, beat the crap out of her one night) and she is determined to fulfill her duties.
During all this, Cole has been trying to find Gretta and one day he just shows up in the manor’s billiard room. I was pretty sure that Cole was going to show up at one point and because she befriended Brahms he was going to take care of Cole. And I was right. But also wrong. And it was here the movie went from really boring and stupid to infuriating.
First off, Cole looked exactly as I assumed he would. Big, hulking, lumber jack looking dipshit with a mullet. Obviously he is meant to be oily and charming but the actor wasn’t capable so you are left wondering how Greta wound up with this bo-hunk. Also why she would let him stay in the house and put up with his threats. I hate abused-women-that-stay-in-the-relationship-after-being-nearly-killed-tropes and this one is so poorly drawn it angered me more than most. Cole is a cipher of a character. He’s a big lumbering boorish Midwest jackass, the kind that populates horror movies only to get their just reward.
Cole isn’t having it with Brahms situation and when he wakes up in the billiard room with rat blood dripping on him and sees “GET OUT” written in blood on the walls he’s had enough. Malcolm and Greta try to stop him but Cole in his dumbassery smashes the doll’s porcelain head into dust. Suddenly a rumble fills the house as something starts moving through the walls. Cole, again because he is functioning at a toddler level of intelligence, puts his ear up to a massive wall mirror to see what he can hear. The mirror explodes and Brahms appears.
I’m gonna pause here for a second to ask if you have seen the movie Housebound? If not, put it on your list. It’s a really fun horror/comedy from New Zealand about a woman on house arrest forced to move back home to her parent’s haunted house. It’s really good and on Netflix. You should go watch it right now because The Boy steals one of the twists in that movie. However unlike The Boy, Housebound has a great story whether you know the twist or not. As a special treat for making it so far in to this review here’s the trailer for Housebound.
Everyone back? Ok, I’ve got to Tarantino a bit here and fill in some story gaps to explain why The Boy is so awful. Earlier we see the old couple send a letter to Brahms from a seaside house. Then they walk down to the beach, put a couple of rocks in their pockets, grasp hands, and walk into the water to drown themselves. We also learned that word around town was Brahms was an “odd” kid. He died in a fire when he was 8. A fire that conveniently occurred when authorities were coming to question him after they found a little girl with her head bludgeoned in the woods.
What crawls out from behind the mirror isn’t a ghost. It’s a man. A weird, hairy, tall, porcelain-masked, man. He attacks Cole, stabbing him in the neck with a shard from the doll’s face. Malcolm and Greta freak out and run, quickly discovering a warren of tunnels and rooms behind the walls of the manor. In no time at all they find Brahm’s rooms, furnished to look like a studio apartment, with all sorts of creepy mementos he’s been stealing from Greta. He has a particularly lovely full size Greta doll fashioned from her clothes.
While in the room, Greta finds the letter the old couple sent Brahms. They apologize for leaving him but say that he can “have the girl”, meaning Greta. Which is intensely, supremely messed up and now I’m very happy this awful couple killed themselves. Fuck them.
Greta and Malcolm try to escape the house, all while Brahms chases them through the walls and takes more punishment than Jason Voorhees. Seriously, they beat him in the head with heavy cudgels, stab him in the chest, and he still survives and is able to throw Greta through the air in to a wall while lying on a bed.
Eventually it’s over, Brahms is seemingly dead, and Greta and Malcolm drive away. Screen fades out and comes back to see someone rebuilding the Brahms doll’s face. The same face that previously exploded into about a hundred million particles. Being rebuilt by someone who had a 12 inch skewer repeated stabbed into his chest.
Here’s what really got me about this terrible movie. You have to unpack it. But basically you have an entitled little shit that smashed in a child’s head. His coddling parents staged a fire and faked his death and started the doll thing as a surrogate while the real Brahms retreated inside the walls. With very little inspection this makes no sense. The manor is behind a gate, in the middle of nowhere, and Brahms could have easily been out and about without worrying about being seen. They could have sent him to school abroad. Literally anything but what they did. However they perpetuate the lie, and worse infantilize the adult Brahms through the doll continuing to treat him like an 8 year old. It’s revolting. Then, these truly horrible people overcome with guilt lure Greta to the house and then “give her” to Brahms. I’m glad they drowned and I hope they burn in Hell.
I can’t with this movie. It’s horrible. If it had been at all scary maybe this would work, but it’s not scary. At all. It’s boring and dumb and offensive. All of the supernatural stuff in the trailer is dream sequence crap. There is nothing supernatural here, other than how a wall dwelling socially regressed weirdo can grow up to have more stamina and take more punishment than a pro wrestler.
Do yourself a favor and avoid it. Not even a hungover Sunday afternoon is good enough for this tripe.