William Grant Bell directs a thriller scripted by Stacey Menear that checks off all the elements of the genre. Greta (Lauren Cohan) is hired by the aging Heelshire couple as a nanny for their eight-year-old son Brahms. An easy-going young woman who is running away from a bad relationship, Greta is amused that her ward is a porcelain doll. But the Heelshires take the nurturing of their son very seriously and insist that Greta follows the rules of his care meticulously. But when the Heelshires take off on a vacation and leave her alone with Brahms, and as Greta shirks the rulebook, she soon begins to suspect that there may be someone else living in the house.
Her only company is grocery deliveryman Malcolm (Rupert Evans) from whom she learns that Brahms had died in a fire in the house years ago. But Greta’s suspicions about another presence in the house continue to mount when she finds her belongings disappearing and then reappearing, hears sounds of chatter and laughter and finds the doll itself changing positions.
You know that a scene of a woman taking a shower with a slow musical build-up is a set-up for something scary. And it is. This is the issue with The Boy –the scares are all easy set-ups. It’s a big empty house, there’s a single white female and a porcelain doll (reminding us of all the other scary dolls, such as Chucky), plenty of stuffed animal heads, stormy nights and creaking floorboards. Cohen’s performance is vital in keeping the audience engaged as she spends a great deal of time alone and she pulls this off decently well. The production design works well too. When the twist ending comes, it is so shoddily executed and so unoriginal that The Boy degrades into a spoof. This is one for genre-fans only.