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Watch This Review

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Movie Review

Running away isn't always easy. Greta Evans knows that as a simple fact. When there's something, or rather, someone dangerously over-possessive in your life, it can be difficult to start over, break away, be truly free from his caustic control. But this time, Greta thinks she may have found a solution.

This pretty, young American woman never thought of herself as the "nanny" type. But when she stumbles upon a job opportunity advertized for a small township in England, she can't pass it up. The manor is spacious, the money is good and the isolation is perfect. Why, this elderly couple she'll be working for doesn't even have Wi-Fi. Her only connection with the outside world and the threat it represents will be an old-school dial-up phone.

Of course, there is one little complication: Her employers, the Heelshires, are insane. Well, Mrs. Heelshire is, anyway. You see, there is no actual child for Greta to be a nanny to. Only a life-sized, porcelain doll.

The Heelshires lost their 8-year-old son, Brahms, 20 years ago in a fire. And ever since, as a coping mechanism, they've cared for their doll as if it were living and breathing.

In a way, Greta feels sorry for the pair. And she sorta feels like she's taking advantage of them. But she needs this opportunity, this chance. And if that means pretending a little bit for their sake, well, that's what she'll do. Besides, the Heelshires are heading off on vacation, so the masquerade can be put on hold soon enough.

When the two finally do hobble off—after giving her a very specific set of strict rules as to their "son's" care—Greta breathes a sigh of relief, tosses the silly doll onto the nearest chair and goes about enjoying her time in the big old house as best she can. It's not bad at all, really. The local grocery owner, Malcolm, makes regular deliveries, and they're actually starting to get close.

It's only when the doll pops up in places other than where she put it that Greta starts to feel a bit strange about her situation. Did she move that thing without remembering? Is it watching her? Is there something weird going on? Something supernatural? As crazy as it seems, "Brahms" clearly wants her attention. Why else would it end up sitting on its bed with the list of rules placed, just so, next to it?

And as time passes, Greta understands that she must give the doll—er, the boy—what he requires. For she recognizes a sense of possessiveness when she sees it. And she already understands when something, or someone, is dangerous.

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Positive Elements

It's apparent that Greta is trying valiantly to restart her life after being on the receiving end of a very abusive relationship. And beyond the clear lessons we learn here about just how wrong such situations are, we also see that when Malcolm learns of this truth, he puts his own wellbeing on the line in an effort to protect Greta from any further hurt. Greta follows suit at one point and steps back into danger to protect Malcolm from a deadly threat.

Spiritual Content

Mr. and Mrs. Heelshire pray together with Brahms when putting the doll to bed. Greta wears a cross necklace. Brahm's movements and spooky actions seem to be directed by a ghostly force.

Sexual Content

While she's showering, we see Greta's shoulders and legs in close-up and a full-body silhouette through a plastic shower curtain. (She steps out wrapped in a full-length towel.) She wears a silky slip in one bedtime scene, and just panties and a shirt while changing in another. She and Malcolm kiss and move to her bed. (They're interrupted.)

Violent Content

Several men fight, punching and shoving. A man is stabbed in the throat with a shard of porcelain. (The bloody results are kept in shadow.) Someone is stabbed in the stomach with a large screwdriver. Someone else is knocked unconscious with a club. We see a portion of a horribly scarred face. Greta is slammed up against a wall and lifted by her throat.

We see Greta's ex, Cole, handle her roughly and push her to the floor. We also hear of how he once beat her to the point of a miscarriage. Cole is woken from sleep by drops of blood on his face. He finds that someone has put several dead rats in his clothes bag.

Two people fill their pockets with heavy stones and walk out into the sea, committing suicide.

Crude or Profane Language

Two s-words. One or two uses each of "h---," "bloody" and "b--ch." Jesus' name is abused three times, as is God's.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Greta pours herself a glass of wine on a couple of occasions. Two other characters drink wine and beer with their dinners.

Other Negative Elements

Conclusion

Horror is one of those controversial film categories that moviegoers either love or really and truly hate. These films are often layered with so many genre clichés and ham-handed jump scenes—not to mention splattered with gobs of blanch-worthy goop—that watching one with a popcorn-munching, Saturday matinee, casual viewer's sensibilities is really quite impossible.

And, honestly, from a Plugged In perspective, horror and family are a tough fit.

With those kinds of thoughts serving as a backdrop, I can at least say that The Boy is, well, better than expected. It's a well-directed film designed to draw viewers in rather than send them screaming out. Lead actress Lauren Cohan's performance is nuanced and believable. There's an emotional healing process in the mix that turns into heroism. And—without giving too much away—even the story's super creepy setup makes a notable shift from the dark side, shall we say, to the psychological side as the tale progresses.

So The Boy isn't really what you'd call a horror-hater's poster child. Some discerning souls might even find it ... less than horrible. Of course, we do see a throat-gouging murder and a sad suicide along the way, so the family fit isn't exactly solid either.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Content Caution

Kids
Teens
Adults

Credits

Rating

PG-13

Readability Age Range

Author

Cast

Lauren Cohan as Greta Evans; Rupert Evans as Malcolm; Diana Hardcastle as Mrs. Heelshire; Jim Norton as Mr. Heelshire; Ben Robson as Cole

Director

William Brent Bell ( The Devil InsideStay Alive)

Distributor

STX Entertainment

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

In Theaters

January 22, 2016

On Video

May 10, 2016

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Bob Hoose

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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