As many of you might guess, I didn’t have high hopes that this movie was going to be good. Horror movies rarely are these days, so I generally avoid them. Or at least, since I started working for the Arclight Cinemas, I would watch everything else first before settling for the ONE horror film that’s left. Having nothing else to watch before the next wave of films, I took a crack at this one. About the only thing that I cared about in the movie was that it starred TV show WALKING DEAD alum, Lauren Cohen, whom is a very talented actress and hopefully would be given a good role to make that apparent… but again, no high hopes. Still, got my ticket and sat down for the movie. This is my honest opinion of THE BOY.
The story follows a young American woman named Greta (Lauren Cohen) whom has traveled to England for a nanny position for a wealthy English family, Mr. and Mrs. Heelshire (Jim Norton and Diana Hardcastle respectively). Upon arrival, she meets another employee of the Heelshire’s, a young gentleman named Malcolm (Rupert Evans) who brings groceries for the family. As soon as the Heelshires make an appearance, they introduce Greta to their son, Brahms… only, their son is a live-sized doll. Greta, naturally thinks this is a joke, but the Heelshires aren’t joking; they truly believe this doll is their son. After accepting that these older people are serious about the job, they charge Greta with watching over him while they’re gone for the next couple months and keep to a strict schedule to care for the doll. As soon as they leave, Greta immediately doesn’t take the job too seriously and ignores Brahms. But as soon as she does, she’s plagued by supernatural dreams of Brahms being alive and attacking her… and the smallest of things beginning to convince her that the doll is in fact alive. So begins a struggle to figure out if she’s crazy, or not.
GAH, it was so close to being good! God damn it, fuck that ending in the eyesocket…
Alright, my formatting for this review is going to be a bit different this time around. I will be going through the entire movie, almost scene for scene, or rather what stood out. I’ll put down a table of contents below so you can skip anything if you don’t want the details. Also, I’ll alert where the spoilers are. So let’s shut me up and get started.
(TABLE OF CONTENTS)
- ACT 1 of the movie … HPO001
- ACT 2 ……………………. HPO002
- ACT 3 ……………………. HPO003
- FINAL THOUGHTS … HPO004
The beginning of the movie is one big phoned-in cliche. The opening scene is Greta sleeping in the back of a taxi and we set the bar for this movie so incredibly high… by having the old fart driver tilting his rear-view mirror to take a peak at Greta’s tits. Horny and perverted people? Check one for whatever check-list the filmmakers were using. This jab at sexism goes nowhere, by the way. We never see this fucker again throughout the film. We just had to remind the audience that Cohen is a woman with breasts. Yeah, neat.
Upon arrival, of course we’re announced that the Heelshires are gone from the house for a bit. The same house that she’s commenting looks like “something out of a storybook.” Uh, no bitch, anyone with half a brain cell is looking at this house thinking, “okay, so what’s gonna haunt me? One ghost, many ghosts… the Casper kind, or the pale zombie kind? Oh, will they go all THE HAUNTING on me and bring statues to life?” Stop acting like you’re awe-inspired. Everyone else has the creeps. Place a check mark next to “unrealistic reaction to creepy shit.”
Greta’s let in and immediately starts hearing noises upstairs and goes ‘sploring. Mark another check for when the character goes into a room, plays with a toy (because that’s what people do in a stranger’s house, just touch whatever they see) and one more check for our first CHEAP JUMP SCARE as a ninja – I’m sorry, quietly approaching normal person – walks in, says one word, and startles Greta. Well, you ain’t a horror movie if you don’t have a few of those.
Well, turns out this is the grocery boy, Malcolm. He and Greta start having a chat about the Heelshires, and mark down a check for “terribly-written male character who is horrible at flirting” as he has Greta take out her gum and he reads it like a palm-reader. I… I can’t make that shit up. He thinks he’s so charming when he does it too. Uh, no, dude. You got creepy really fast. While we’re at it, place another check for “terribly-written female character who actually thinks he’s cute when he really isn’t.” Anyone else getting a bit of a headache from this movie yet? And we’re not even ten minutes in.
Now we’re introduced to the boy himself. The doll. Yeah, nah, I’m with Greta on this one. I’d be snickering too if someone legit told me this was their kid. Hell, I’d probably just walk out of the house believing I’m being conned. What gets me is that these people don’t even think there’s anything wrong here. Um, yeah, YOU’RE crazy enough to get away with believing that the doll is real, but please wake up and acknowledge that no one else is buying this horse-shit. You gotta give a harder sell to keep your future nanny around for two months caring for this doll. But… nope, place a check next to “main character sticks around in crazy situation for no good reason.” I don’t even think we’re told how much they’re paying her. But yeah, Greta sticks around and the Heelshires leave.
Immediately, she puts a blanket over Brahms and leaves him alone, also completely ignoring the list of things that the Heelshires gave her for what Brahms must do everyday. Yeah, not gonna lie, I’d probably do the same. But now the movie starts developing its atmosphere. She passes by Brahms on the chair she left him in and the blanket is on the floor. Greta’s freaking out and throws him on a chair in his room. For the rest of the first act, she’s basically struggling with little boy voices in the walls, maybe she’s crazy or maybe Brahms is alive, who knows, and having dreams of the doll attacking her in some form, cheap scares occasionally.
ACT 2 – HPO002
But, somewhere in the middle, the movie gets surprisingly good. How? It does away with cheap thrills and starts developing the backstory of Brahms a little more and the movie starts to convincingly tell us that this doll is indeed alive.
From here, there’s also a bigger focus on developing Greta and you become pretty attached to her and feel for what she’s going through. She begins to accept that Brahms is alive and accepts her role as the nanny of this doll. This acceptance isn’t sporadic. It’s very much developed and when she starts talking about her past how she left America for this nanny position to leave her abusive ex-boyfriend and move past losing her unborn child, she thinks it’s not coincidence that she has been brought to this family. The Heelshires lost Brahms in a fire twenty years prior to the story and the doll showed up not long after and have treated the doll like their son every since.
The cheapest twist at this point would be that Malcolm was Brahms the whole time, but considering how likable Greta was becoming and how well-written this movie was getting, I was really hoping that wouldn’t have been the case.
In any case, Greta feels a sense of understanding of what it’s like to lose your child and to find comfort in something to at least feel like he’s still with you. She begins to adhere to the routine that she’d been ignoring and there’s an implication that she is having better rest and even seems to enjoy doing everything for Brahms. At some point, she even tries to convince Malcolm that the doll is alive and succeeds. This doesn’t become a moment of fear for the two, but rather something incredible. Greta becomes convinced that this is something that she has to commit to, opening up about her past to Malcolm and generally given a pretty solid character arch.
ACT 3 – HPO003
What was that line in SAVING PRIVATE RYAN? “…picture a girl who took a nosedive from the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down.” Yeah, this is where the movie does the same fucking thing.
Remember that asshole ex-boyfriend of hers? Well, earlier in the movie, we are informed that this prick got the address of where she’s living in England. Because, you know, every parent would willingly give that information to their daughter’s abusive ex-boyfriend… and this fucking guy, Cole, played by Ben Robson, just breaks into the house, starts playing pool… and Greta has NO expression. Actually, scratch that. I take that back, she does have an expression, but THE WRONG FUCKING ONE!!! She’s gawking at the surprise guest and making him dinner (yeah, she fucking does that). Fuckin’ hell, you stupid bitch, get your well-sculpted ass to the fucking telephone and call the fucking police. HE’S BREAKING AND ENTERING!!! HOW ARE YOU NOT NOTIFYING THE AUTHORITIES!?!?!?
Fucking fine, whatever, they’re eating and Malcolm makes an appearance as well (it’s been established that he has a key to the house). They start talking away from Cole and she starts saying that she’s not letting the jackass stay with her and that “she has a plan.” Malcolm leaves the house, but hangs out in his car just in case. Well, guess what happens in the next scene… THE ASSHOLE EX IS SLEEPING ON THE FUCKING COUCH!!! What did you just say, bitch?! What did you just fucking say?! Oh my god, this bitch is driving me up the walls, especially when she STILL does nothing when he grabs her arm and practically commands that in the morning, she’s leaving her job. Oh, excuse me, she whimpers. An effective strategy. *SARCASM*
Well, that night, while Greta’s asleep, Brahms isn’t where Greta left him and we see him near Cole, looking at him, a handwritten message in rats blood saying “get out” with the same dead rats shoved in Cole’s suitcase. Cole wakes up, freaks out, and starts demanding answers as to why she and Malcolm (who makes an appearance again) want him gone so bad… Are you fucking kidding me dude? Are you seriously fucking- you know what? I can’t even right now. The worst has yet to come. So in a fit of rage, Cole picks up Brahms and starts swinging him around and smashes it on a table, destroying the doll. Of course, Greta’s doing a silent slow-mo “nooooo.” Fucking bitch, there were a million things you could have done to prevent this and you fucking know it. Whatever sympathy I had for you, it’s gone now. This was your fault.
But that mentality lasts for about as long as the slow-mo lasts, which is about a second. Now things get good. The walls are banging, the lights are flickering, the paintings are rocking, I’m thinking to myself, “oh motherfucker damn, the wrath of Brahms is coming down on this biznatch.” I’m all giddy waiting for Cole to get what’s coming to you. The idiot approaches a mirror, pressing his ear against it, and BAM, exploding mirror! FUCK YEAH!!! Cole may not be dead yet, but…
Wait wait wait, what’s that in the hole of the wall where that mirror used to be? Is that… is that a person? Oh no… oh, oh god, no… Oh god, there’s a hand, there’s a torso, there’s a sweater on that torso, OH MY FUCKING GOD, THIS MOVIE DID IT!!! ALL THIS TIME, AFTER AN ENTIRE ACT OF CONVINCING ME THAT IT’S A LIVING DOLL, THIS WHOLE MOTHER FUCKING TIME, THE THING WE WERE SUPPOSED TO BE AFRAID OF WAS A MOTHER FUCKING DUDE IN A MOTHER FUCKING MASK!!! BRAHMS NEVER DIED IN A FIRE AND WAS ALIVE THE WHOLE FUCKING TIME!!! No… no, no. No, no, no, no, NO, NO, NO, NO, NONONONONONONO, FUCK!!!
I… I don’t even know where to begin. This whole movie was built up to be a supernatural haunted house kind of movie. It abandons its own genre and suddenly becomes a slasher flick. The last ten minutes of the movie and it decides to be a cheap FRIDAY THE 13TH. Oh and get this, there’s even action movie elements. I’m not kidding, there’s a bit where guys are breaking through walls in slow motion. I swear to god, I was watching that scene in THE MATRIX where Morpheus headbutts his way out of the wall and starts fighting Agent Smith, only that was bad-ass and this is painfully obnoxious.
Brahms still has his little boy voice, which for some reason reverts to a man voice a few seconds after.
Turns out that the Heelshires killed themselves and left a note for Brahms that Greta was for him to have forever. They knew he didn’t die twenty years ago and he’s literally been living in the walls. So… why are you pretending the doll is Brahms? Or maybe the question should be, why use a fucking doll to lure this hapless girl into a life of pretty sick servitude? You couldn’t just… hire a house-sitter to keep the place clean and pay the same? You know what though, the million dollar question would be this: did you old farts really think this shit through? If Greta died in this house, guess what would have happened? Her family would have investigated. They have the address to this place. Police, demolishing the house, eventually finding Greta’s dead body, your precious boy probably wouldn’t go quietly and would have most likely be killed. And who would have been there to cover for him? NO ONE, YOU DUMB FUCKS!!! And for that matter, WHY THE FUCK DID YOU KILL YOURSELVES??? This isn’t explained. At all. They just drown themselves…
And there’s a moment where Greta escapes. Scott-free to get the hell out of dodge. But what does she do? Oh, she can’t bare the thought of leaving Creepy McGum-Reader to die at Brahms’ hands. She finds a screwdriver and hides it in her back pocket. She encounters Brahms, naturally, and commands him like a disciplinary nanny to go to bed… and this… somehow works. Yeah, under the blankets and everything. And… she just kind of walks away. Oh, but not before Brahms wants a kiss goodnight. Yeah, a full-on make-out with the mask takes place. The blanket’s thrown off and THAT’S when Greta stabs Brahms with the screwdriver. Fuckin’ bitch, you had a GOLDEN opportunity to hold him down under the blanket and stab away until he wasn’t just dead, but SUPER dead. Instead, you make out with his mask, stab him once, get… rather supernaturally thrown against a wall, and held against that wall by your throat. Yeah, you get out and kill Brahms… kinda, whoopee for you. Now it’s time to leave, but don’t forget your incredibly uncharming British man-ass.
The final shot of the movie shows a rebuilt Brahms doll, implying that maybe the real Brahms didn’t die. Honestly… I don’t give two fucks anymore, this ending hurt me so bad.
FINAL THOUGHTS – HPO004
This is my longest review guys. You want to know why that is? Because I wanted to like this movie. I really did. And you know what? At this very moment, I still love the middle. But… that FUCKING ENDING RUINED EVERYTHING!!!
I can’t… I just, can’t.
If the movie had committed to it’s supernatural build-up and given a much more satisfying ending, I would have given this movie a strong three out of five. Yeah, that first act anchors it down to just “okay,” but the rest of the movie picks up and delivers a pretty solid product. But because the ending is so infuriating, ON TOP of the cliche-infested first act, this movie…
My honest rating: a weak 3/5.
That middle prevents it from being a complete shit-storm.
Sound off on the comments, though. What did you guys think? Was the entire movie garbage? Did you think the ending fit nicely with the rest of the film? Let me know what your honest opinion is.