Mainstream theatrical horror of today has an issue with familiarity and expectation. Many horror films, particularly within the spectrum of the January dumped dregs, tend to stick to a jump scare style formula, usually relying on bland characters being pulled along to a conclusion that would serve as a twist, yet has little backing within the story itself beyond shock. Thus, I was surprised by the much of the first two thirds of The Boy. I mean, the jump scares were still there and did little to elicit much of a genuine gasp. If anything, the more common reaction was a titter of laughter despite the best efforts of The Walking Dead actress Lauren Cohan. Yet, Cohan and the film itself oddly managed to surprise me by simply creating a bit more dimension with its characters that I had expected. Cohan’s journey into knowledge of this doll managed to grow and twist in certain directions I didn’t expect, intriguing me for a solid amount of the film.
Cohan’s initial distrust of this situation, rising terror & worry about its outcome and eventual curiosity seemed to flow naturally. She even shows a realistic sense of sympathy for the “parents” of this doll, who are well portrayed by Jim Norton and Diana Hardcastle. It’s nothing groundbreaking, but her curious line of thinking, the mystery of the doll and the solid chemistry she had with Rupert Evans seemed to build towards something that, maybe wasn’t unique, at least more intriguing with the questions potential supernatural drama that could be found. Unfortunately, the third act trudges along to wreck things, introducing twist after twist that slowly destroy most of the potential for those elements in a quick minute. Even if it wasn’t going the way I thought, the least The Boy could do was actually engage me on some level with its twist. Instead, the shock value results in a rather shallow and remarkably underwhelming reveal that changes things into a completely different subgenre of horror. Then again, why am I surprised given the similar yet much more offensive ending of director William Brent Bell’s previous film The Devil Inside?
Rating: 2 out of 5 Non-Creepy Dolls