Much like clowns and Ann Coulter, dolls have an inherent creepiness that makes them ideal and easy fodder for horror movies. Films as diverse as The Conjuring and Black Devil Doll from Hell have used dolls as a source of fear by filling the small, human-shaped chunks of plastic with evil intent, and none did so as successfully as 1988’s Child’s Play. Chucky proved popular enough that he went on to appear in several sequels, but now a new little “boy” has arrived on the scene with a personality that seems every bit as malicious.
A young American woman (Lauren Cohan, The Walking Dead) takes a job as nanny to a child named Brahms, but when the nice, elderly couple who’ve hired her introduce the boy she’s shocked to discover that he’s not quite what she expected. He’s not a boy, he’s a doll. And he’s got an attitude problem.
Check out the trailer for William Brent Bell’s The Boy.
Greta (Cohan) makes some questionable decisions even in the short running time of this trailer – the breaking of the rules suggests she’s never seen Gremlins – but one I’m hoping the film answers is why exactly she would stay on the job after realizing her ward is a doll. Even if the little bastard didn’t hop up and start terrorizing her when she wasn’t looking I’d argue that the creepy couple are enough of a reason to bail.
I’m also curious if we’ll get to see Brahms actually moving around or if the film will go the Annabelle route as teased in the trailer – the pitter-patter of his movement, shadows glimpsed beneath doors, but no actual, clearly-witnessed walking around. Chucky’s incredibly mobile, as are the stars of the Puppetmaster franchise, the nasty native from Trilogy of Terror, and the long-nosed fibber in Pinocchio’s Revenge, so hopefully Brahms follows suit. It might reduce the tension some, but it also ups the threat to the characters.
The film is the feature debut of writer Stacey Menear, but director Bell is something of a known quantity – and what we know isn’t all that promising. His three other features (Stay Alive, The Devil Inside, Wer), all genre efforts, are little more than hooks executed and explored in unmemorable ways. The same fate might befall The Boy, but judging by the trailer this one at least looks quite good. We also can’t underestimate what Cohan brings to the experience. She’s one of the four reasons I still watch AMC’s The Walking Dead – the other three are terrifically bleak character arcs, fantastic gore effects, and Danai Gurira – and it’s nice to see her score a lead role in a feature.
One last question that probably won’t be answered until we see the movie, but what the hell is up with rule #6 on that list glimpsed in the trailer? Clean the traps? I kind of doubt they’re talking about the sink, so maybe that’s another thing that should have tipped off Greta that she answered the wrong Craigslist ad.
The Boy opens in theaters starting January 22nd, 2016.