October 5, 2022

The Boy (2016) – PG-13 Horror Done Right

The Boy (2016)The Boy was directed by William Brent Bell and written by Stacey Delay. It stars Lauren Cohan (Maggie from The Walking Dead) and Rupert Evans. The Boy tells the story of Greta (Cohan) who is a young American woman who takes a job as a nanny in a remote English village. She soon discovers that the family’s eight year-old is a life-sized doll that they care for just like a real boy as a way to cope with the death of their son 20 years prior. After violating a list of strict rules, a series of disturbing and inexplicable events bring Greta’s worst nightmare to life, leading her to believe that the doll is actually alive.

SPOILER ALERT: There are a couple of pretty major plot twists here. I’m not going to talk about all of them but will mention some. If you want to go in completely spoiler free skip this review until you’ve seen the film. 

Plot & Thoughts

As I sat down to watch The Boy last night I have to admit I was a little worried. When I see a horror movie that’s rated PG-13 I have an automatic bias against the film. I’m happy to say that The Boy will make me rethink that bias. While there’s nearly no blood or gore in this flick it’s creepy as hell and REALLY well done from top to bottom. There were several outstanding jump scares, one specifically that got me even though I knew it was coming. (You watch enough horror movies and you know what to look for).

The plot here is pretty straight forward. Greta is hired to watch after Mr. and Mrs. Heelshire’s boy Brahms. What they don’t tell her, but she learns very quickly, is that Brahms is actually a porcelain doll that they treat 100% like a real boy. They read to him, feed him, give him lessons, talk to him, tuck him in and kiss him good night. We learn throughout the film that Brahms was their son who was killed when he was eight years old. The parents are apparently using this doll as a method to cope with their son’s death. The Hellshires are going on vacation without their son and Greta will mind the house and the boy while they’re away.

Lauren Cohan is outstanding here. As a fan of The Walking Dead it’s sort of weird to see her clean and not covered with blood and guts but I got over that rather quickly. She’s a lovely young lady and cleans up great! I’m not quite sure why they made the decision to make the character American. Cohan herself is British so it would have made perfect sense. We learn that Greta is essentially on the run from her abusive boyfriend Cole (Ben Robson) which is why she’s so far from home.

Rupert Evans plays Malcom who brings a weekly delivery of food to the house. He’s basically here to move the story along and to give us back story about Brahms and the Hellshires. Speaking of the Hellshires, they’re played by Jim Norton and Diana Hardcastle and they are great in their small roles. When they leave Mrs. Heelshire whispers into Greta’s ear that she’s “so sorry” so it comes as little surprise when she and her husband commit suicide on their vacation.

I’ve been singing Brahms’ Lullaby to all three of my boys every night since the day they were born so seeing it represented here was really awesome for me. The score here does everything right from a horror perspective and really does help to heighten the tension in several scenes to the point where you really don’t miss the blood and gore of a typical R-rated flick.

There was one scene in particular that was WAY too dark. Greta is up in the attic and it’s clearly a very suspenseful scene but it was so dark that I missed much of what was going on. Other than that the film is shot beautifully. The location is majestic and with the exception of that one scene the film is dark when it should be, light when it should and the camera moves in a way that ups the creep factor. There’s a slew of first person shots showing what The Boy is seeing.

There’s a huge twist in the end that makes sense when you think about it. There’s a single dropped line early in the film that gives it away but doesn’t ruin things at all. I’m a big movie ending guy so a bad ending can really ruin a film for me. I do have to say that the end of the film doesn’t quite hold up to the beginning but I’d had a really fun time up until that point and it’s not an illogical twist so I could go with it.


I just checked and The Boy has a 27% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. For me that’s a reminder why I put very little stock into ratings. This was a fun little flick that I’d recommend for sure. Hard core horror fans who enjoy blood and guts probably won’t find much here as there’s none of that plus the plot is pretty thin. That said The Boy is an intense little “mood film” that would be great for date night when you want to turn the lights out and get spooked. There were a couple of times where I legit got shivers based on the camera work and score. Tough not to recommend a flick that gives me that reaction even with an ending that falls a tad flat.

For more information on The Boy check out the following links:

Have you seen The Boy? Tell us what you think in the comments below!


I've been a fan of horror and slasher movies for as long as I can remember. I consider the original Halloween to be the best horror movie of all time and my guilty pleasure horror flick would be The Exorcist III. You can find me on Twitter at @406Northlane where I'm sure I'll offend you at least once a day.

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