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Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: The Boy

May 7th, 2016

The Boy - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray Combo Pack
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The Boy

It has become common for a horror film or two to be released very early in the year. These films tend to have very low expectations with both critics and with moviegoers. This year, The Boy was one of the first horror releases of the year and while most critics attacked the film, it did rather well at the box office, all things considered. $64 million worldwide isn't enough to be considered a midlevel hit, but it is a solid run for a movie that cost just $10 million to make. Is it better than the critics said it was? Is it a solid horror movie?

The Movie

We are first introduced to Greta Evans as she is sleeping in the back of a taxi. She is an American in a small town in England. She's come there to be the nanny for Mr. and Mrs. Heelshire; however, the taxi driver informs her that they are not home at the moment, but they instructed him to tell her to go inside and wait for them. After hearing something upstairs, she goes upstairs to investigate, only to be startled by Malcolm. He owns the local grocery and is there making a routine food delivery. He also tries to flirt with Greta claiming he's psychic and can read her chewing gum. It doesn't go well for him. She asks him about the Heelshires and their son Brahms, but he isn't able to say much before they finally arrive home.

Mrs. Heelshire eventually introduces her to Brahms, it's a doll. This isn't a spoiler. The Doll is on the cover of the Blu-ray. At first, Greta thinks this is a joke. Malcolm does help mitigate the shock, but she's still understandably shaken by what she sees. However, while a lot of people would have simply made an excuse and left, we got hints than Greta came to England to get away from Cole, her abusive ex-boyfriend. And there are some benefits; after all, how hard could it be to take care of a doll? The money is also good, so she will be able to start again when she gets back to America. All-in-all, staying seems like the right thing to do.

Shortly afterwards, the Heelshires go on vacation leaving Greta alone with Brahms. They give her a list of rules she must follow before they leave. Greta almost immediately stops following the list of rules, because she's alone in a big house with a doll. Who's going to know if she didn't, for example, let Brahms listen to his favorite opera that day? However, when she does stop following the rules, weird things start to happen. She asks Malcolm about the doll and he explains that the Heelshires had a son who died in the house on his eighth birthday and they use the doll as a coping method. This does calm her down, enough to agree to go on a date with him. This doesn't stop the weird occurrences from happening. She starts to think that perhaps the doll is alive. Or perhaps she's losing it.

I've said previously that a good surprise twist in a movie can make you want to immediately rewatch the film, while a bad surprise twist will make you retroactively hate the movie. This movie falls squarely in the latter category. On the one hand, explaining the twist will obviously ruin the end of the movie. On the other hand, I can't really explain what's wrong without doing so. You have been warned. After some some of the mysterious events happen, Greta gets all scientific and tests to see if the doll is actually moving. She's so convinced that she brings in Malcolm and sure enough, the doll is moving. At this point, they start talking about paranormal investigation and this could have been an interesting direction to take the film. But nope, in the climax we learn the Doll isn't alive, Brahms is. He never died in the first place and he's been living in the house hidden away ever since. That's not quite the worst way to end the movie. They could have had Greta wake up and tell us it was all a dream. It was still a disappointing way to solve that mystery.

Worse still, the movie was actually relatively good before that point. Granted, the pacing was a little slow and some of the attempts to be atmospheric came off as silly, but overall I would have been willing to forgive those faults, had the ending been stronger. I did like Lauren Cohan's and Rupert Evans' performances in the movie and they had good chemistry together. The old English country manor is a good place to set a horror movie and the film used the setting well. The film was never going to be a classic, but it could have been a solid example of the genre and worth recommending, if it weren't for that ending.

The Extras

There are no extras on the DVD or Blu-ray. None. I was shocked when I realized that. Granted, it wasn't a major hit at the box office, but it also didn't bomb either and the studio should have at least put together a EPK / Behind-the-scenes featurette.

The Verdict

The Boy starts out slowly, but builds the tension relatively well. Unfortunately, it really stumbles in the end. Additionaly, the DVD and Blu-ray Combo Pack have absolutely no extras. I guess if you are a fan of the genre and of the cast, then it is worth a rental, but that's as enthusiastic as I'm going to get.

Filed under: Video Review, The Boy, Lauren Cohan, Rupert Evans, Jim Norton, Diana Hardcastle, Matthew Walker, Ben Robson, Jett Klyne