Boys will be toys
released 18 March 15 | 97 minutes
Director William Brent Bell
Cast Lauren Cohan, Rupert Evans,
Jim Norton, Diana Hardcastle
Creepy dolls are hardly an innovation for horror movies; they’re so omnipresent that even The Simpsons spoofed the idea. So to pull off a solid entry in the canon, you’ve got to come up with something fresh. Director William Brent Bell, here making his best film of a so- far mixed career that has included Stay Alive and The Devil Inside, summons up a lot of atmosphere and keeps you guessing, but still doesn’t completely make it work.
The Walking Dead’s Lauren Cohan stars as an American woman who takes a job as a nanny in a creaky old English country house, only to discover that her charge will be a weird china doll, used as a kiddie replacement by grieving parents. Handed a list of rules about treating it as a real boy, she soon discovers the penalty for neglecting them – and there’s nothing worse than being stuck in an isolated mansion with no mobile service and a freaky toy for company.
The initial feeling of isolating unease and growing paranoia works well, but it’s undercut by a derivative third act and a forced subplot about our heroine fleeing an abusive relationship. And while Cohan copes admirably with frequently acting opposite an inanimate – OR IS HE? – prop, even she can’t quite keep the whole affair afloat. James White
The doll was used for prank scares by several of the cast, leading to one throwing it from their trailer in fright.
“Stop looking down my top!”