By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)
There’s no devil found inside The Boy, only misguided innocence. This movie is a mildly chilling thriller directed by William Brent Bell. His trail of horror films are amusing, but they feel like they do not have the necessary sparkle and charm needed to put them at a level of being truly scary when compared to his non genre work.
In this film, a porcelain doll is the subject of speculation. The trailers suggest a spirit inhabits it. When people are not looking, it would jerk its head or disappear. Tiny moments of solid direction in the movie editing suite offers some terse moments, but they are not enough to carry the movie from beginning to end. Writer Stacey Menear might have crafted this movie on spec and the true discomfort of what a haunted doll can project is not always convincingly portrayed. Gone are the days of Chucky, and the in-thing now is with Annabelle. For people interested in authentic histories of such possessed figures, there’s plenty of to go around, including a locale in Mexico which nobody in their right mind would want to visit at night. Maybe the filmmakers should have went to Isla de las Muñecas for added inspiration.
The Gothic tradition is certainly felt with this movie and it’s not fully explored. Sadly, this tale is not a period piece;. it’s set in modern times, where people have real world problems. Greta (Lauren Cohan, The Waking Dead) shows she has the chops to carry a film and she’s fleeing from a temperamental ex boyfriend. Her only connection with civilization is a corded phone with a close friend on the other side of the world instead of a cellular one. Much of the that conversation sets up why she’s in England, and the ambience of Craigdarroch Castle exists to tell viewers that where she’s holed up is a time capsule. Some clever film-editing makes this abode larger than it really is, including adding Hatley Castle‘s exteriors to a side of the building that’s never seen, but has to exist. If only weather served the city of Victoria better with lingering foggy nights and a waning moon over the abode, perhaps a better level of terror can be achieved.
Some crafty dodging of the location’s many exit signs and exhibit areas by the camera makes for an easy suspension of disbelief from people who have visited this historic site. However, the likelihood of everything being shot there is slim. At least 15% of the sets were constructed so it could get modified later for cameras to loom and track around. Sadly with this tale, the formulaic approach made this film very predictable. The hook in this story is perfect for the genre, setting up ideas ala The Fall of the House of Usher, but the twist is more Halloween-like. Do we really need a new terror named Brahms running around the English countryside?
3 Stars out of 5