By John Mulderig
Catholic News Service
NEW YORK (CNS) — A spooky house, an unsettling doll, a youthful baby sitter or nanny left vulnerably on her own. Do those gothic ingredients sound familiar? Of course they do.
Put Chucky inside the Victorian pile Norman Bates shared with his ma and strand a young Jamie Lee Curtis alone there to mind him, and you’ll end up, more or less, with"The Boy" (STX).
Still, director William Brent Bell’s reheating of horror-movie leftovers does go easy on the bloodletting. There’s no Michael Myers or Freddy Krueger-style slice-and-dice included in this recipe. So adult viewers can sample the result at will, though elements of a different kind make this dish too spicy for the kids.
On the rebound from an abusive relationship with Cole (Ben Robson), her boyfriend, young Montana native Greta Evans (Lauren Cohan) takes a job as a nanny at a remote British mansion. Greta’s attempt at a fresh start takes an unexpected turn, however, when she arrives to discover that her charge is a sinister porcelain doll that her elderly employers, the Heelshires (Jim Norton and Diana Hardcastle), have substituted for their deceased son, Brahms.
With that delightful eccentricity so typical of the English, the Heelshires insis tthat Greta treat the figurine — as they do — exactly like a real child. When the couple departs for a vacation soon afterward, Greta’s willingness to put upwith this charade is put to the test — and quickly found wanting.
She parks faux Brahms in a chair and covers him over, but soon finds that such neglect gives rise to uncanny events. Nobody, it seems, puts this baby in a corner, unless they want to spend the night locked in an attic that’s even creepier than the rest of the Heelshires’ residence.
Greta receives guidance, comfort and eventually love from her sole human contact, the local grocer’s clerk, Malcolm (Rupert Evans). Infatuation increases the frequency of Malcolm’s appearances beyond the weekly deliveries mandated by the Heelshires. That’s just as well, given that Greta is steadily being driven batty by bratty Brahms.
With no one watching them (or so at least they think) the duo tries for a bedroom get-together. Though they’re interrupted — for all his naughtiness, Brahms is puritanical or at least jealous — their thwarted endeavor, along with the odd tawdry term in the dialogue, makes this efficient chiller safest for grownups.
The film contains considerable violence with brief gore, nongraphic premarital sexual activity and occasional profane and crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association ofAmerica rating is PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be in appropriate for children under 13.
Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.