Some dolls are downright creepy, with their fixed expressions, ever-staring eyes, and complete lack of reaction to anything that happens.  In the horror movie The Boy, there may be a lot more to one particular doll.

Greta Evans (Lauren Cohan) is an American nanny who left America -- and an abusive relationship with a man named Cole -- for a seeming ideal position in England.  The elderly Heelshires (Jim Norton, Diana Hardcastle) are going on holiday for several months, and they want a nanny to watch over their 8-year-old son, Brahms (as well as live in their large, isolated mansion).
 It's a simple assignment -- until Greta discovers that Brahms is a life-sized porcelain doll that the Heelshires treat like an actual child (complete with a schedule of activities for him).  The grocer/potential love interest Malcolm (Rupert Evans) explains that the real Brahms died in a fire twenty years ago, and shortly afterwards the Heelshires got the doll and used it to cope.  He also shares that Mr. Heelshire worried that Brahms was "odd," and there were rumors that Brahms killed a little girl before he died in the fire.
Greta's assignment begins fine -- calls with her sister in America, watching the house, putting Brahms away from her -- but then weird things start happening.  Greta's clothes start vanishing or getting spread out, she gets mysterious calls and thinks she hears a child sobbing, and Brahms seems to have moved when left alone.  Is Brahms' ghost or spirit animating the doll?  Is there someone in the mansion with Greta? Or is she hallucinating what's been happening?

The Boy is a pretty by-the-numbers horror movie.  Lead actress with a troubled past and personal connection to her new situation?  Check.  Large mansion with creepy elements and poor lighting?  Check.  Mysterious events that could be supernatural or hallucinations?  Check.  Resolution that may be setting things up for a horror franchise?  Check.  Lauren Cohan is decent in the main role, but despite a few quick shock-scares the movie doesn't do anything really new; and the ending isn't fully satisfying and goes on a little too long.  The Boy is alright, but Brahms won't be the new Chucky.

Overall grade: B-
Reviewed by James Lynch

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