Grade B

Lauren Cohan plays an American with a dark, troubled past who moves to England to be a nanny for “The Boy.” Living in a large, old, creepy house with no neighbors in sight, the elderly parents introduce Cohan to their son…who happens to be a large, creepy doll named Brahms.  There are strict rules that must be adhered to by Cohan, such as playing music and reading to Brahms, and never leaving it alone.  Treat Brahms well, it will treat her well, the parents caution; treat Brahms badly and…

As soon as the elderly “parents” leave for a vacation, Cohan disregards the rules and treats Brahms like the creepy doll that it is, covering it with a blanket and leaving it by itself on a chair in the dark.  Soon after, strange, scary things start to happen: her things start to disappear; her room appears to have been searched and left a mess; noises are heard throughout the house; and the doll sometimes is not where Cohan left it.  Is Brahms possessed by a spirit?  Is Cohan losing her mind from the stress of what happened to her in America?  Or could it possibly be the locals having wicked fun with the foreigner?

One of my memorable moments of this movie is the scene when Cohan is first introduced to Brahms by its “parents.”  Cohan laughs and looks at the elderly couple waiting for them to join in on the laughter, but instead they look at her as if she is naked in a funeral.

My most memorable, movie moment of “The Boy” is the scene that reveals the mystery of Brahms.  I will write no more of this scene so as not to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t seen this movie yet.

“The Boy” is, for the most part, typical of this type of story; but what sets it apart from the rest is how Cohan deals with the doll once she accepts that he may be possessed, and the reveal of the Brahms mystery.  I was pleasantly surprised that I could not figure out Brahm’s secret; and an unpredictable movie is more fun than one that you can read with your eyes closed.  Some of the scares are cheap, but overall the director sets up many scenes that are  genuinely creepy and sometimes stressful to the audience as we try to anticipate when and if the doll will suddenly do something.

— M