‘The Boy’ plays upon our fears of creepy dolls

Sun Sentinel Broward Edition - Showtime - South Broward - - MOVIES - By Stephen Schae­fer

”The Boy,” which opens to­day, res­ur­rects one of the movies’ creepi­est con­ceits: A be­reaved fam­ily treats a life-size doll as its liv­ing son.

In this hor­ror out­ing, the be­lated dis­cov­ery is made by Greta (Lau­ren Co­han), an Amer­i­can who has come to this ru­ral English house­hold to be the nanny for an 8-year-old boy.

But that child ac­tu­ally died two decades ear­lier and the fam­ily’s cop­ing mech­a­nism is, well it’s a stretch.

Greta quickly learns that as nanny she must abide by very strict (!) rules that must never, ever be bro­ken.

Yet what creeps her — and hope­fully the au­di­ence — out is the grow­ing re­al­iza­tion that, hey, could that doll, maybe, be real?

“The Boy” fol­lows an es­teemed (and of­ten prof­itable) cin­e­matic tra­di­tion.

“Pinoc­chio,” Car­los Col­lodi’s 1883 Ital­ian fairy tale MPAA rat­ing: PG-13 Run­ning time: 1:37 Opens: Fri­day of a wood­carver’s cre­ation come to life, started it all.

That’s be­cause Walt Dis­ney’s 1940 an­i­mated ver­sion be­came an in­stant clas­sic with its Os­car­win­ning song, “When You Wish Upon a Star,” and its mus­ing on mor­tal­ity and moral­ity.

When benev­o­lence switched to evil as a cin­e­matic theme, pos­sessed dolls took their place in the hor­ror genre. A few stand­outs in­clude:

“Devil Doll”: Ah, the old evil hyp­no­tist trick! This 1964 stylish scarer fea­tures Hugo, the pos­sessed dummy.

“Dolls”: A1987 frightfest in which folks take refuge in a man­sion dur­ing a storm (who does that?!) and meet two mag­i­cal toy mak­ers, who nat­u­rally have a col­lec­tion of haunted dolls.

“Child’s Play” started a fran­chise in 1988 with the tale of a sin­gle mom buy­ing her son a much-wanted doll. Oops, it’s pos­sessed by the spirit of a se­rial killer. The one, the only, Chucky. “Child’s Play” spawned two se­quels be­fore Chucky took over with the 1998 “Bride of Chucky” fol­lowed by “Seed of Chucky” and “Curse of Chucky.”

“Annabelle”: This 2014 spinoff from “The Con­jur­ing” of­fers a back­story to that haunted vin­tage doll. It’s not a pretty one, what with the satanic cult and the mur­der and the de­mon-sum­mon­ing.

“Liv­ing Doll”: Al­though this 1963 “Twi­light Zone” episode was on the small screen, we can’t omit “Talky Tina,” who men­aced Telly Savalas to an early grave.

“Tril­ogy of Ter­ror”: A clas­sic made-for-TV movie from 1975, star­ring Karen Black and a Zuni fetish doll with ra­zor sharp teeth. It was also handy with a knife, and al­though small, did some se­ri­ous dam­age.

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