What is it about dolls in horror movies that’s just so unsettling? Even your resident Horror Chick can admit that she’s been scared by dolls in scary movies in the past. I vividly recall having to hide one of my toys in my youth when it was time for bed because one of my classmates had remarked that it looked like Chucky from the CHILD’S PLAY franchise (not to mention my introduction to Sailor Moon as a kid involved this monstrosity). My scarred childhood aside, evil doll movies have had it rough over the last few years, ANNABELLE was generally disregarded as a lackluster cash grab, and even the horror icon Chucky’s last film, though well received by fans, was a direct to DVD release. Yet every now and then, one of these types of films can end up surprising you. For instance, even though the film DEAD SILENCE wasn’t a hit with critics or audiences (presumably because the poster looked like a rip off of the Goosebumps book THE NIGHT OF THE LIVING DUMMY), James Wan was still able to take the concept of a creepy doll, in this case Annabelle, and make her the scariest part of his 2013 hit THE CONJURING. Well, it’s that same nightmare fuel-inducing creep factor that director William Brent Bell seems to be counting on in his upcoming horror film, THE BOY.
As we can see from the trailer, Greta (played by Lauren Cohan) is a young American woman who takes a job as a nanny in a remote English village. When she arrives on the job, she discovers that the family’s supposedly 8-year-old son is actually a life-sized doll that the parents care for just like a real boy as a way to cope with the death of their actual son 20 years prior. After violating a list of strict rules she was left with after the couple departs, a series of disturbing and inexplicable events bring Greta’s worst nightmare to life, leading her to believe that the doll is actually alive.
With the exception of the very end of the trailer, which I think really undermines the great build up the rest of the trailer has, this film looks like it has the potential to be a great classic ghost story. The trailer does an excellent job of setting up a truly eerie atmosphere, which is essential for any story with a creepy doll. Filmmakers always have to be extremely careful when centering an entire story around an evil doll; if they’re not careful while showing the doll moving in the shadows or around hallway corners, the film can quickly turn into an unintentionally comedy (or in the case of the CHILD’S PLAY franchise, an actual horror comedy). While I think this film will ultimately succumb to a few horror cliches, as indicated by the lackluster jumpscare in the final shot of the trailer, I’m genuinely impressed by the tone of what we’ve been presented with. Everything from the English setting to the grayscaled colors is evocative of both a classic and modern ghost story. The idea that our protagonist Greta has broken a series of supernatural rules and is now suffering the consequences is also very reminiscent of the first GREMLINS (only with less camp and wacky shenanigans). I don’t personally think Brahms will ever be as memorable or iconic as Chucky or Annabelle, but he’s certainly made a great first impression.
What did you think of the trailer? Do you think THE BOY looks like it has the makings of a classic or do you think that playtime for this genre is over? Be sure to let us know @TheMovieChickk!
Want another great ghost story? Check out THE CONJURING on Amazon.com!