Boys will be toys

SFX - - Reviews -

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!”

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