‘The Boy’: The Pinocchio of Horror


 The Boy isn’t a biographical account of the life and times of George Alan O’Dowd, but to many it’s entertainment value mirrors such. An American woman by the name of Greta Evans would soon know who indeed the boy was: A boy that would assist her in dealing with issues bestowed upon her by another person of male species.

Greta commences employment as a nanny for the Heelshire family in a small town within the United Kingdom. Although she is from Montana, she feels this opportunity is one she can’t decline. As are many employers, The Heelshires are “a bit nutty” (as Austin Powers would say). Their eight-year-old son named Brahms had perished in a fire.  Years have passed since then, however the parents grieving continued most unhealthy.

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Their void was somewhat filled with the use of a porcelain doll. But this was no ordinary doll. It was a life-sized and made by Mattel (Neither Mattel or the producers of the film have confirmed the previous statement in its entirety). The Heelshire’s care for this doll as if life emanates from inside it. They provide Greta with a strict list for her to follow. As she persistently neglects this list, she is quick to realize that “every child needs to be loved.”

The film separates itself from other doll-involving films such as 1978’s Magic or 2014’s Annabelle. The word “tepid” has been used to describe this film by multiple sources. One source, Joe Leydon with Variety, was quoted as saying,  “Despite game efforts by the cast, this tepid horror opus is never scary enough to overcome its silly premise.” He further said the film is “more likely to elicit laughs and rude remarks rather than screams and rooting interest.”

The screenwriter, Stacey Menear, said he didn’t want the doll to look scary or terrifying. The idea of a non-frightening doll would help the audience in believing that the nanny would be affectionate toward it and start to look at it as a real, live doll. “I think it’s better if you understand that she (Greta) lost a child, she’s going through something, and she see’s something in this doll, in this existence, in this house that can fill the void that she’s feeling.” He went on to say that he personally felt affection towards the doll while writing various scenes, even describing the doll to be “almost sweet”.

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This film has been said to be a psychological horror as well as a horror-thriller. Speaking of “Thriller,” Michael Jackson’s “This Is It” was scarier than this. That being said, I will leave you with a couple of quotations of film critic Christy Lemire’s review:

"Its a tricky thing to pull off: drawing shivers from turning a childhood plaything into something truly menacing versus eliciting giggles at the sheer silliness of the proposition. Such is the unfortunate – and unintentionally hilarious – case of The Boy, whose moody atmosphere and committed performances can’t conceal the fact that this is one dumb flick."