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John’s Horror Corner: The Boy (2016), a pleasantly entertaining evil doll movie with a ridiculous premise, an awkwardly eerie atmosphere and a straight-faced delivery.

February 4, 2016

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MY CALL: This movie samples heavily from The House of the Devil (2009) and Housebound (2014), but lacks the stylistic magic of either. That said, I found this movie to be quite enjoyable. Not good, mind you, but enjoyable. The delivery is spot on for this otherwise ridiculous premise.

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I know.  This job DOES sound too good to be true!

I walked into this movie with hopeful optimism, praying this wouldn’t be another evil doll movie disaster like Annabelle (2014; podcast discussion of Annabelle). I’m quite happy to say I enjoyed it…yet I would hesitate to call it “good.” It’s fun, it’s enjoyable (in my opinion anyway), but I could see a lot of people getting annoyed with it.

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In the first half of The Boy our very capable director William Brent Bell (Wer, Stay Alive, The Devil Inside) samples heavily from The House of the Devil (2009) as we meet Greta (Lauren Cohan; The Walking Dead). Hired to nanny a young boy while his senior citizen parents are on a 3-month holiday–a little odd, by the way, to hire a nanny you’ve never met to meet your 8-year-old child one day and then spend the next 3 months alone with him as his sole caretaker–she travels all the way from America to a remote manor in England–so remote that, of course, there is no cell reception or internet access–only to find out that the boy is, in fact, a doll which the perhaps disturbed and elderly parents consider to be very much alive.

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The delivery from the parents is awkward, eerie and a bit funny–probably exactly as intended. These nutty parents maintain a dire poker face while referring to the “boy” (strangely named Brahms like he’s some Austrian composer) as if this creepy doll could hear and understand them. But, just like The House of the Devil (2009), the pay is so unreasonably high to conduct such a (suspiciously) simple task that she stays despite the fact that her Creep-o-meter is reading an 11.  Oh, right, and the boy has rules.

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As laughably farfetched as this premise sounds, I felt it was well-delivered and quite enjoyable. They got the tone just right. So if this movie isn’t for you, my guess is it’s because this kind of movie in general isn’t for you. It’s also not gory and more creepy than scary.

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I know what she’s thinking.  The answer is yes, Lauren, this film IS going to reduce you to doing a shower scene.

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And the answer is no, Walking Dead fans, you don’t see her naked.  LOL.  Just some upper thigh action.

My biggest criticism would have to be the needless addition of Greta’s crazy, violent, obsessed and abusive ex-boyfriend. He’s mentioned in the beginning to help justify Greta looking overseas for work, but after a couple more mentions it becomes obvious that we’re going to meet this Mr. Personality eventually. Thankfully it’s late in the movie, but the character adds nothing to the story. In fact, I found his presence aggravating.

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After all sorts of needless drama picks up steam as we get on board the train to crazytown after “something bad” happens to the doll. Any explanation beyond that would surely spoil the ending. But the movie succeeds in maintaining an uncomfortably eerie atmosphere and some of the jump-scares were simply epic…for jump-scares anyway. I really enjoyed them.

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This movie has a ridiculous premise, a straight-faced delivery, and it meets us in the middle with a very entertaining and in no way slapstick experience.

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