The Boy (2016)

Directed by William Brent Bell
Written by Stacey Menear
Produced by Matt Berenson, Roy Lee, Gary Lucchesi, Tom Rosenberg, Jim Wedaa, Richard S. Wright, Oren Aviv, Adam Fogelson, David Kern, John Powers Middleton, Eric Reid, Jackie Shenoo, Robert Simonds, Donald Tang, Zhongjun Wang, Zhonglei Wang
Starring Lauren Cohan, Rupert Evans, Jim Norton, Diana Hardcastle, James Russell, Ben Robson

Before they take leave on holiday from their magnificent estate, a wealthy, elderly English couple (Norton, Hardcastle) consign the care of a doll fashioned in the likeness of a little boy to its new American nanny (Cohan), who’s naturally puzzled by the atypical ease and absurdity of her daily duties to habilitate and edify with literature and music her unmoving charge. Within the walls of the manor where she’s lodged resides the mystery of unexplainable incidents in reaction to her initial dereliction, to the surprise of the confounded caretaker and a friended, local grocer (Evans). Whoever can disregard or accept its inherent silliness will probably enjoy Bell’s workmanly thriller, which for his operative direction, Menear’s compelling scenario, cultivated tensions, and passable performances may lure even those who’ve guessed its secret within its first half-hour. Dingy by immoderate coloration, the high contrast and clarity of Daniel Pearl’s cinematography still embellishes every shot of these photogenic players and British Columbia’s exquisite, extravagantly appointed Craigdarroch Castle. Alas, common jump scares and exposition — most embarrassingly yabbered by Cohan on the move during a revelational and eventful third act — remind those watching of how goofy this gets.

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