Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Boy Review

This past week I finished up my year in review for 2015 as I gave you my best and worst movies of this past year. However, incoming movies never stop coming and so now it's time to give you my first review of a 2016 movie! Yes, I did review The Hateful Eight and The Revenant this year already, but those were 2015 releases that expanded this month. There were also some other new releases in the last two weeks that I didn't get to because I chose to spend my time catching up on a few more 2015 movies before making my final best and worst lists. In typical January fashion, none of them really looked that good and poor reviews for nearly every one of them made me believe I wasn't missing much. However, I do plan on catching up with a few them anyways so I can let you know if they're worth your time. But first I needed to see The Boy. Why was a creepy doll horror movie the new January release I was actually anticipating? The answer is that this comes from STX Entertainment, the new production company that brought us The Gift, one of my favorite movies from last year. That's a good reason to check this out, right? Turns out this isn't that bad. In fact, I thought it was pretty good.

I will admit that this is a tricky movie to review as literally the whole movie hinges on whether or not the last third of the movie is any good. As such, a good portion of my thoughts pertaining to this movie have to do with the ending. But ain't no way am I divulging any of those thoughts because that will ruin the experience for you. The whole premise of the movie is centered on the mystery of this doll. Our main character is a girl who has just got out of a pretty bad experience with a previous relationship and she is simply looking to escape the world, so she accepts a job as a nanny out in the country. The house she goes to for this job is a huge, old house in the middle of nowhere with all the windows boarded up. Her job is to watch after an older couple's 8-year-old son while they are gone on some sort of vacation or something like that. Turns out their son is a doll, which confuses her, especially when both of the parents treat the doll as an actual boy with strict rules that need to be followed. The doll is not alive. It's not possessed or talking. It's just a doll. So when the parents leave, she doesn't really take this seriously at all. She leaves the doll on the chair or on the bed and goes about her normal business. She has broken the rules.

I'm going to stop you right there. When you hear that premise, I know what you are thinking. The doll really is alive and it's possessed with some sort of demon and it comes alive to chase this girl and kill her for not obeying the riles. No. That's not what this movie is. This isn't a supernatural horror film. This isn't a monster film. Instantly there's a ton of movies that come to your mind, like Child's Play for example, that do follow this premise. Quite frankly I'm not a huge fan of slasher horror films like that, especially not our modern take on the genre. Too many horror films these days rely way too much on jump scares, monsters/demons, and blood and gore in order to be entertaining. Acting and story often get thrown out the window. If that's what you like in your horror movies, don't go see The Boy. It's not your movie. The doll doesn't start killing people. The movie isn't that gory. There were hardly any jump scares and those that were there didn't make me jump very much. In fact, I wasn't even really that scared. If you're in the mood to go get scared and/or you want to see something violent and gruesome, skip this one. I'm serious. You're going to walk out hating the movie.

Does saying this spoil the movie? Not in my opinion. My point here is that I want you to know what you are getting into with this. Perhaps if you look at it the right way, you might actually enjoy the movie. No there aren't a ton of jump scares or blood and gore. Yes, there is a lot of suspense and a lot of that is done in more of a natural way. We are thrown right into a very complex story that we don't know much about. As the movie slowly starts to reveal itself, we start getting an idea of what's actually going on. But it's not given all at once. The mystery shrouding the whole situation is what keeps you intrigued and keeps your eyes glued to the screen. What's the deal with this family? What have they gone through? Why are they doing the things that they do? The first thing I actually noticed was the set of the film and the lighting. This sets the tone for the movie. Instead of jump scares, we get great camera work combined with a beautiful, creepy score. We also have great acting by everyone and very believable characters. The way the older couple cares for this doll as if it's their actual son is great and believable. How our main girl reacts to this while the parents are there and what she does right when they leave is also great. The whole thing felt real and genuine. I felt like they were actually trying to make a film instead of using horror cliches to grab a few extra bucks and I appreciated that.

In summing this point up, this felt more like a thriller to me than a horror and I think that if you look at this as more of a thriller, then you might appreciate the movie more. In fact, a very comparable movie was M. Night Shyamalan's The Visit from last year. That was another movie that was a horror/thriller. It wasn't scary or gory, but it was suspenseful and it was actually really good. Much of the same qualities that made The Visit a good movie make this one a good movie. Even if we were to ignore the ending of The Boy, the way that they crafted the film and the way that they chose to build up the suspense were very admirable in my opinion. When it comes to thrillers, I'm once again going to refer to the master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock. None of his movies were super scary, but they were very suspenseful and the way he built that suspense was beautiful. I want more people in our day to look at the model Hitchcock set up and use that for their films. When I see it happen, I make sure that I give credit where credit is do. Last year STX delivered The Gift which I felt was a modern Hitchcock thriller, which is why I loved it so much. I went into this movie hoping that The Boy would follow the same format and I honestly feel comfortable in saying that it did. The movie was set up like a good thriller should be set up and I loved that about this movie.

But as I said towards the beginning of this review, this movie hinges on the last act of the movie. Last year there were several movies where I spent a long time explaining what it is exactly that makes a good thriller and I came up with three main points that good thrillers always have. The first is a realistic premise. The second is a good villain. The third is a good twist. That third one is a very key. Good thrillers have good twists. If you have a realistic premise and a good villain, but your twist isn't that good, the movie fails because the whole movie you are leading up to that twist. That reveal is the whole point of the movie. The reveal in The Gift was amazing. The reveal in The Visit was pretty good. The reveal in this one? Ummm... this is where I do a lot of dancing around the answer. I want to dive into my thriller formula with this movie. In my mind I have. But the problem is that I can't even talk about any of them. Do we know if this is a realistic movie? No, we don't. I spent the whole movie wondering where they were going to take this. Is the villain a compelling villain? Who even is the villain of the movie? Is it the doll? Is it the parents? Is it someone else? And how deep and relatable are they as a villain? I have answers to these, but I can't dive into specifics. Was the twist a good twist? I don't want to tell you.

So yes, as I stated earlier, this was a hard review to write. Overall I suppose a good way to sum up my thoughts is that I was satisfied. Perhaps this isn't the most original idea. I haven't actually seen a lot of creepy doll movies, but I really enjoyed the direction they took with this movie. This certainly isn't your typical slasher horror movie. This also isn't a situation where Sam and Dean Winchester needed to intervene, if you get that reference. I don't know what else to say without spoiling things, so I'm going to leave it at that. But once again I want to repeat that you should know what you are getting into with this movie. If you want a gory, jump-scare filled monster movie that so many horrors are like nowadays, this is not your movie. If you want to see a movie that scares your pants off, this is not your movie. I see this as more of a thriller where the suspense is built up in a slower, more natural way that I personally appreciate a lot more. Is this on par with The Gift? No, it's not. I have a few things to nit-pick that I can't tell you about, but I do think this is a good movie. I also think it's very comparable to The Visit. If you liked that movie, then I think you should give The Boy a shot. My grade for it is an 8/10.


  1. I have several questions about this movie, (I really enjoyed it by the way) first; who made the doll? Why did the parents treat it so well and love it so much when their real son was watching the hole time behind the walls? Why do you think he stayed behind the walls for so long, like, why didnt he just sleep in the room his doll had? Whenever Brahms moved things for instance Gretas shoes at the beginning of the film and again when he threw a fit and destroyed his room. His parents acted as if the doll had done it. How did the real Brahms get so strong and who was buying him all his clothes and finally what are your opinions on the parents? I think they are the real vilians of the movie.

    1. Yeah these are a lot of great questions. When I talked about me being nit-picky, this is what I really mean. A lot of these questions are questions I have to and I don't really know the answer. I wish the movie would've fleshed out the backstory a lot more than it did. I do think the parents are very unlikable at the least. They're motivations don't make any sense and I wish we would've learned more about why they just abandoned their son and left the girl with him as a sacrifice of sorts. Thanks for your comment! And make sure to like my facebook page ( or follow me on twitter (@drogemiester) to keep up with my reviews!