When you're crazy, do you know you're crazy? It's a question I've heard asked in movies and in real life, but it is quite the poser (at least for those of us who are not crazy
as far as we know). In other words, when you're doing things that other people would call "crazy", at what point do you move from "eccentric", or even "weird", to genuinely, certifiably
using the clinical term
"bat-sh** crazy"? These are some of the questions you'll be asking about more than one character in the horror thriller "The Boy" (PG-13, 1:37). But you'll soon find out that insanity is only one possible explanation for the unusual behavior of various characters and the many strange happenings throughout this very entertaining film.
Greta Evans (Lauren Cohan) is a young Montana woman (around 30) who is restarting her life. To escape an abusive relationship with her former boyfriend, Cole (Ben Robson), she doesn't just leave him she leaves the country. Greta gets hired as a nanny (a job she's never done before) by the wealthy Mr. and Mrs. Heelshire (Jim Norton and Diana Hardcastle), an eccentric older couple living in a big, isolated house in the English countryside. Unusual stuff, but things definitely move to weird-slash-creepy when Greta first sets eyes on her young charge. The "boy" that Greta is supposed to care for turns out to be a marionette-like porcelain doll. Greta thinks it's all a joke, but the Heelshires aren't laughing. They lost their son, Brahms (Jett Klyne), in a house fire on the boy's 8th birthday. They coped with their loss by starting to care for a doll which looks like their son and is about the size of an 8-year-old boy. They've been calling this doll "Brahms" and treating him like a real boy for about 20 years. Now, it's Greta's turn.
After giving Greta detailed instructions regarding Brahms' care and leaving her with a clipboard containing a list of ten rules (and whispering a cryptic "I'm very sorry" as they head out the door), the Heelshires drive away for their first vacation in "a very long time." Greta is now alone with Brahms in that big wireless-less house. Her only contacts with the outside world are her friend, Sandy (Stephanie Lemelin), whom Greta calls regularly from an old rotary-dial phone, and Malcolm (Rupert Evans), the handsome young local man who delivers groceries and brings mail to the house about once a week.
At first, Greta treats the doll as most of us would, tossing it aside and ignoring it. But the longer Greta ignores that list, the more strange things begin to happen in that house. Her clothes disappear. She gets locked in the attic. She finds a mess in Brahms' bedroom. She starts to hear noises and see shadows. Greta is creeped out and begins having scary nightmares about Brahms. Then, the doll starts showing up in places other than where Greta left him. When she calls Malcolm over to witness all this, and he sees that Greta is now treating the doll as if he's real, Malcolm starts to treat her as if she's
"The Boy" is very well-directed and pretty original. William Brent Bell (who also helmed 2012's "The Devil Inside") masters the slow build, making us wonder throughout the film who's crazy and who's not, as he gives us a few good gotcha-type scares along the way. His cast is better than in many horror flicks and they keep us interested during the times that not much happens. Stacey Menear's script keeps us guessing and then brings everything together in a mind-blowing twist that few will see coming and which shocks, without resorting to cheap tricks. This film skillfully blends some elements of earlier horror movies like "The Shining" (1980), "Child's Play" (1988) and "The Others" (2001), but has a fresh and even more modern feel to it. All aspects of this fun and exciting horror thriller are on target from its creativity, to more technical aspects, such as its set, camera work, visuals and editing. Missing this movie, or letting anyone tell you the ending before you see it for yourself, would be
kinda crazy. "A"