What can be said about The Boy? It's ostensibly a horror movie- the story of Greta, an American woman with a blandly haunted past who takes a nanny job in rural England. It's a nannying gig like any other: tuck the kid into bed, make sure he eats his vegetables, read to him, blah blah blah. Except the kid isn't a kid at all. The kid is a toddler-sized porcelain doll named Brahms whose unhinged "parents" insist he's real. As such, Greta doesn't pay him much mind. She reads a ton of magazines, gets romanced by the local grocery boy, and occasionally loses her clothes. But when strange things start happening around the old house, Greta begins questioning her own sanity.
This sounds interesting enough, right? Wrong. While The Boy, which was released early this year, comes with a decent premise, the consensus of critics and audiences has been a resounding "huh." The leading role, while fairly well acted by The Walking Dead's Lauren Cohan, leaves a lot to the imagination. Not in a good way, either. She's running from her past, but what else? The script fails to give Greta much personality beyond "perpetually spooked damaged girl." We get to see very little of who she actually is outside of a few phone calls to who is supposedly her sister. It's a shame because Cohan has shown us in the past that she has the talent for a well-written role. To see her as a character who's well rounded only in the most basic of terms is a little sad.
The same can be said of Greta's employers, Brahms' mom and dad. We're introduced to an ice queen older woman and her somewhat bumbling husband, both of whom drop hints that things aren't quite what them seem. It's as if they're compelled to do it by some bad movie higher power. Which I suppose they are- the higher power being the blandest script I've seen in years.
The worst part, though? The icing on the cake, the unforgivable sin? The plot twist (because of course there's a plot twist) is one of the lamest, most insulting plot twists I've ever seen. All the buildup, all the potential for redemption that could take this movie from "huh" to "hmm?" The plot twist drags it out into an alley, curb stomps it, and steals its wallet. The most obnoxious part about the twist is how clever it thinks it is. Have you ever heard a five-year-old tell a joke? They're not really clear on the whole concept yet, but they're super proud of themselves. They laugh at themselves like no one in the world has ever been so funny. That's what this twist is like. But at least a five-year-old has the chance to grow up and become a better comedian. With the exception of one admittedly cool scene, this twist is stuck in Kindergarten forever.
The Boy is not a B-movie. It's not even a Z-movie. Love yourself. See The Revenant instead.