It’s not often that a horror movie surprises me.
It’s even rarer for a January horror movie to be good.
And even rarer, a horror movie with a doll that I find even remotely tolerable.
And yet, here is it — The Boy.
I have to admit when I saw the first trailer for this, I had ZERO INTEREST in seeing a movie with a doll. Why? Well, I’ve always found realistic looking dolls creepy as hell!
But if it’s creepy, Dave, wouldn’t that make for a GOOD horror movie?
Okay, you got me … in theory.
But usually scary doll movies aren’t creepy. They’re just silly.
And unlike mixing chocolate with my peanut butter, I don’t like mixing (too much) humor with my horror (exceptions made for Shaun of the Dead and its ilk).
But The Boy isn’t played for laughs.
And where The Boy truly succeeds is its twist ending.
A good twist ending doesn’t just surprise you, but it also makes total sense when you think back on everything that happened in the movie.
Anyone can pull out a weird ass ending that surprises an audience. But does it make sense?
THAT is the test of a good twist ending to me.
And that is also why I went to see the movie — I fell for the hype in the more recent trailers telling how people were blown away by the ending.
Blown away by the ending?
Of a horror movie with a doll?
What could the movie possibly do to surprise me?
I took the promise of a twist as a personal challenge!
The Boy is about an American, Greta (played by The Walking Dead’s Lauren Cohan) who takes a temporary job as a nanny in an English village in order to make some money, and to escape a personal problem at home (again, no spoilers).
She’s called to take care of Brahms, a boy of two elderly people in a typically giant scary old house.
Except, as she finds out in one of the most awkward moments of the movie, the boy isn’t a boy, but rather a large porcelain doll.
A very creepy looking porcelain doll, which has become a surrogate for the couple’s child who died some twenty years ago.
They’re treating the doll as if it’s real — caring for it, dressing it, feeding it, and talking to it. The whole thing is creepy and sad.
And Greta is visibly uncomfortable trying to wrap her head around the craziness that’s going on here, but she doesn’t want to offend them, and … doesn’t want to lose the job.
So she plays along.
Turns out that she’s been hired because the old couple needed a nanny to look after Brahms so they can take their first holiday in a long time. Meaning that she’s going to be left alone with Sir Creepy McPorcelain Face.
You know how parents give babysitters a list of things to do and not do when watching their children?
Well, the old lady provides Greta with just such a list.
And that list, not surprisingly, becomes important in what happens next.
And that’s where I’m going to leave off.
But I will say that the twist is NOT one that I saw coming.
And that surprises me.
Usually I can see “twists” a mile away.
And it almost always disappoints me — except in cases where the movie is so well done that it doesn’t matter. And by well done, I mean not just carefully crafted, but also gives me characters that feel real, that I root for (or hate).
And The Boy excels in character development.
It’s a nice slow burn old-fashioned horror movie.
And the ending is truly creepy and unexpected. So much so that I was smiling a big huge smile at The Reveal.
I REALLY want to say more about the ending, particularly something it did VERY well, and a couple of minor complaints (that I’ve seen some reviewers harp on), but I don’t want to spoil the movie if you’re going to see it. I can, though, see why some people might not like the ending.
I loved it, though.
Maybe I’ll talk about the ending in a future SPOILER POST.
One word of advice — try and stay away from other reviews of the movie, or looking on IMDB, if you want to be truly surprised by the ending.
While critical reviews are mixed, and it only placed fifth this weekend at the American box office, it has a lot of great viewer scores on Metacritic, and is definitely not the sort of horror stinker you typically see at this time of year.
The Boy is a well-told, thoughtful, non-gory, slow burn tension-filled horror movie that gives you the sort of twist you’ll be thinking about long after you leave the theater.
And there’s not nearly enough horror movies I can say that about.
NOTE: I was going to include a trailer for this movie, but unfortunately MOST of the trailers I saw give away some things you’re better off not seeing.
SIDENOTE: Why do trailers have to give away so much?! Seriously! Some of the BEST MOMENTS in the movie are in the fucking trailers! WHY?! Have some faith in the movie. Don’t give EVERYTHING AWAY!