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The Boy Blu-ray + Digital HD Review

The Boy (2016) movie poster The Boy

Theatrical Release: January 22, 2016 / Running Time: 98 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Director: William Brent Bell / Writer: Stacey Menear

Cast: Lauren Cohan (Greta Evans), Rupert Evans (Malcolm), James Russell (Brahms Heelshire), Jim Norton (Mr. Heelshire), Diana Hardcastle (Mrs. Heelshire), Ben Robson (Cole), Jett Klyne (Brahms Heelshire - Child), Lily Pater (Emily Cribbs)

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The Boy feels like an American remake of a foreign horror movie, but it's not. This original tale is the product of the first screenplay by Stacey Menear. It also feels like a January movie. That, it is and one of the latest to cash in as theatrical counter-programming at a time when Oscar contenders are expanding and Christmas blockbusters are still doing solid business.

The film is directed by William Brent Bell, who previously experienced January horror success on 2012's big-opening, short-legged The Devil Inside. Since then Bell made little indie found footage film Wer, but The Boy returns him to studio fare, which he got his first taste of on 2006's soon-forgotten gamer horror flick Stay Alive.

In "The Boy", Greta Evans (Lauren Cohan) is tasked with being nanny to a porcelain doll.

The Boy takes us to the UK, where Montana resident Greta Evans (Lauren Cohan) has moved for a nanny job that will occupy her for several months. Greta gets a big surprise soon when she learns that the boy she'll be tending to in this country mansion is actually a porcelain doll. The Heelshires (Jim Norton and Diana Hardcastle), the young boy's elderly parents, have neglected to tell Greta this in advance. They do not even acknowledge that Brahms is any less than a real boy.
Greta is to dress, feed, tuck in, and read to the boy as if he were a living child. Needing the money and the distance from an abusive ex back in America, Greta runs with it.

She learns more from friendly and flirtatious grocery deliveryman Malcolm (Rupert Evans), who informs her that Brahms is a substitute for the real child who died in a fire on his eighth birthday, all the way back in 1991. As the Heelshires go off on holiday, Greta is left alone with Brahms and though that might seem like one easy paycheck (even in light of the home's lack of Wi-Fi and cell phone signal), we know better than that.

Brahms makes his presence felt in the subtlest and creepiest of ways. Greta's dress goes missing while she's in the shower. She then ends up spending the night trapped in the attic wearing nothing more than a towel as her screams go unheard. In response to this and other disturbing incidents, a nightmare-addled Greta begins treating the doll like a real child, following the family's rules to a T and even blowing off Malcolm to fulfill her bizarre job.

Shortly after Greta's ex (Ben Robson, unable to hide his Geordie accent) shows up, we get our answers regarding Brahms and discover whether Greta is simply losing her mind.

Brahms Heelshire gives off the impression that he's alive to his new American nanny Greta (Lauren Cohan).

The Boy deserves credit for at least being a little different. There isn't a great deal of variety within modern horror: much of the genre can be divided into haunted houses and crazed killers.
This movie finds something in between and it does a decent job of captivating with stretches of silence that aren't merely an excuse for jump scares. The ending is not easily predicted (so long as you don't visit IMDb beforehand) and it sort of answers the many questions raised throughout, so that much works. Still, the movie never entirely shakes that January horror movie feel, with its lack of anything resembling movie stars and its reliance on an easily marketed and kind of absurd concept.

The Boy only opened in 5th place, but its legs were good enough to give it a respectable $36 million domestic total. The third film from distributor STX Entertainment, the film reaches DVD and Blu-ray next week from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

The Boy: Blu-ray + Digital HD cover art - click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray Disc Details

2.40:1 Widescreen
5.1 DTS-HD MA (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, French, Spanish
Not Closed Captioned
Release Date: May 10, 2016
Suggested Retail Price: $34.98
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (BD-50)
Blue Keepcase in Embossed Cardboard Slipcover
Also available on DVD ($29.98 SRP) and Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

Black levels are lacking in The Boy's 2.40:1 widescreen presentation. Otherwise, the picture satisfies with its crisp element and general clarity, both commonplace features for new studio releases. The 5.1 DTS-HD master audio soundtrack garners some notice with its fine if sparse use of directional effects and atmosphere. The disc is equipped with uHear for clarifying missed lines, a nifty feature in theory, though one my remote's yellow button wouldn't allow me to activate.

"The Boy" has no extras on Blu-ray and this as its simple, static top menu screen.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

Surprisingly, the Blu-ray contains no extras at all, aside from Digital HD.

The disc opens with trailers for Desierto, Hardcore Henry, Krampus, and The Forest, none of which is menu accessible. The Boy's own trailer is MIA.

The static menu, shown above, features score.

An insert supplying the iTunes and UltraViolet-compatible Digital HD code and directions (and advertising other Universal horror Blu-rays) is all that accompanies the plain single silver disc inside the keepcase that's topped by a textured slipcover.

Who interrupted their bedtime fun with Victrola music? Malcolm (Rupert Evans) and Greta (Lauren Cohan) look to the seemingly inanimate yet obvious suspect: Brahms the doll.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

You could certainly and easily find worse horror movies than The Boy, even when limiting yourself to wide release studio fare. This slow-paced, concept-driven thriller disarms enough to nearly make up for a slightly ridiculous ending that is somehow both unpredictable and inevitable. Universal's Blu-ray underwhelms with its complete lack of extras, but in truth this isn't the kind of movie many will itch to see more than once or delve into its making.

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Related Reviews:
New to Disc: The 5th Wave The Driftless Area Jane Got a Gun
From Director William Brent Bell: The Devil Inside Stay Alive | Lauren Cohan: Reach Me
Annabelle Child's Play Halloween Orphan
January Horror: Mama Devil's Due Cloverfield Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters

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Reviewed May 3, 2016.



Text copyright 2016 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2016 STX Entertainment, Lakeshore Entertainment, Huayi Brothers Pictures, Vertigo Entertainment, and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.
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