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Film / The Boy

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The Boy is a 2016 horror film starring Lauren Cohan. Cohan portrays Greta, an American woman on the run from a bad situation at home. She winds up in England and accepts a job as a nanny for an eccentric old couple, the Heelshires. But things are apparently very wrong in the Heelshire mansion, for it turns out that Greta won't actually be taking care of a real boy, but rather a porcelain doll who represents Brahms, the Heelshires' deceased son. Rather than reject the job, Greta is grateful for the safe haven the mansion provides, and she enjoys the flirtations of Malcolm, who delivers the mansion's groceries. Unfortunately, she forgets all about Brahms very quickly, and while he might not be in the world of the living anymore, the Heelshires' son will not be denied affection...

Not to be confused with The Boy (2015) or Boy (2010).

A sequel, Brahms: The Boy II, was released on February 21, 2020.


  • Action Girl: Greta might be on the run, but she's no coward and puts up quite a fight when she needs to.
  • Asshole Victim: After destroying the doll, the abusive Cole gets his comeuppance from the real Brahms, who carves his throat with a shard of the doll's broken head.
  • Babysitter's Nightmare: The Heelshires have hired several nannies over the years for Brahms, but none of them ever stay. It's implied he eventually kills the nannies off after they somehow upset him too much.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Greta and Malcolm escape the Heelshires home after Greta believes she killed Brahms, but the film's ending shows Brahms is still alive, putting together the broken doll Brahms.
  • Big "NO!": From Greta when Cole destroys the doll.
  • Catapult Nightmare: Greta experiences a few of these relating to Brahms.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: The real Brahms ends up being this as when he spots Greta and Malcolm making out on her bed he plays loud music and interrupts them. When it's revealed he's "in love" with Greta later on it makes sense.
  • Creepy Child: Mr. Heelshire won't speak of the real Brahms other than to say that he was "odd." Malcolm reveals that Brahms is believed to have murdered a playmate shortly before the fire that took his life.
  • Creepy Doll: The film runs on this, and is done so effectively that the Brahms doll becomes a character in its own right.
  • Domestic Abuse: Greta's ex-husband Cole, from whom she is on the run. At one point he beat her so badly that it caused her to miscarry.
  • Driven to Suicide: Once Greta is installed at the mansion the Heelshires drown themselves, presumably out of despair and guilt for sheltering their murderous son for so long.
  • Dude Magnet: All the guys in the movie want Greta. Malcolm, Cole and Brahms. Of course, the one she loves back is Malcolm.

  • Enfant Terrible: Brahms is strongly implied to have murdered a playmate of his at age eight. He goes on to grow into a Psychopathic Manchild.
  • Fanservice: During a prolonged scene of Greta in the shower, close-up shots of Lauren Cohan's body are spliced with her clothing sliding away thanks to an unseen Brahms. Greta spends the next several minutes of the film searching the house while wearing only a bath towel.
  • First Kiss: Shared between Greta and Malcolm after she explains her past.
  • Foot Focus: The first thing Greta does when she enters the Heelshires' home is take off her shoes. Her bare feet continue to be in-frame and in-focus throughout the rest of the film.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • When he's showing Greta how to clear out the rat traps, Mr. Heelshire tells her that as strange as his and his wife's eccentricities may seem, their son is still with them. He's not speaking metaphorically; Brahms really is still with them, living in the attic.
    • Mrs. Heelshire insists that Brahms likes his music loud, and instructs Greta to read to the doll loudly and clearly, as well as criticising her for not being loud enough when "waking" the doll. That's because the real Brahms is living in the walls; of course things have to be loud and clear in order for him to hear properly.
  • Genre Savvy: After Greta realizes that something weird is going on with the doll, instead of following the usual horror movie cliché, she actually starts following the rules she's already been given. True it doesn't help her in the end, but that wasn't her fault. She did nothing. Ties in with Wrong Genre Savvy below.
  • Hate Sink: Cole is just an abusive scum to his girlfriend.
  • Inside a Wall: The real Brahms uses the walls to navigate the house and sneak around.
  • Kick the Dog: In keeping with his cruel, abusive behavior towards Greta, Cole smashes the Brahms doll to pieces out of simple spite. It greatly backfires on him soon after, in the form of the real Brahms retaliating him.
  • Madwoman in the Attic: The real Brahms secretly lives in the house, and his parents apparently keep him complacent by hiring women to care for the doll that he lives vicariously through. It's implied that he eventually kills the nannies off after they somehow upset him too much.
  • Malevolent Masked Men: Brahms was disfigured in the fire that was believed to have killed him. He conceals his deformities beneath a wig and mask identical to the face of the Brahms doll.
  • Moment Killer: After Greta and Malcolm share their First Kiss they start making out on Greta's bed.It's clear their intention is to make love but we see someone, later revealed to be the real Brahms, watching them through a keyhole and loud music stops them on the act.
  • Mundanger: As it turns out, the Creepy Doll is just that, a really creepy doll. The real threat is the doll's owner, Psychopathic Manchild Brahms.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: Most likely intentional. The trailer and TV spots all go out of their way to make the movie appear to be another Creepy Doll horror movie, thus making The Reveal much more shocking.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: The doll only seems to move when Greta is in a different room than it is. This is because the real Brahms is moving it around himself, in order to continue with the illusion that the doll is alive.
  • Official Couple: Greta and Malcolm become one by the end shown by their First Kiss and makeout moment that ends up being interrupted.
  • Oh, Crap!: Greta gets two: Once when she realizes that the Heelshires have hired her to take care of a doll rather than a real child, and one when she finds her abusive husband Cole in the pool room, having tracked her down.
  • Pet the Dog: A possible reason for Brahms killing Cole but sparing Malcolm is that he saw Malcolm and Greta making out earlier and knew Malcolm genuinely loved Greta and Cole didn't, which explains why twice he could have killed Malcolm but only knocked him out instead.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: The emotional development of the real Brahms seems to have stopped at age eight when he murdered a girl. He speaks in a high, childish voice, views Greta as a mother figure, and is freakishly strong and violent. However, he also watches her shower at one point, and gets a little too forceful during the last kiss he asks Greta for. The implication being that his physical wants differ slightly from his emotional wants.
  • Red Herring: There are multiple lingering shots showing how much the Brahms doll resembles the real Brahms, and also how much it resembles Malcolm, and Greta at one point also mentions how he'd have the same age as Brahms if the latter had lived. All, alongside how Malcolm seems to be the only person the Heelshires interact with regularly and knows them well, gives the implication that Malcolm is actually Brahms. Nope, he isn't Brahms but Brahms is alive.
  • The Reveal: Brahms never died in the fire. He was actually living in the walls of the house after suffering burns. The Heelshires only acted as if Brahms died and used the doll Brahms as a front. It was also later on revealed that they left the house and committed suicide by leaving Greta to Brahms so "he could have her". This works particularly well because up until the reveal, Greta and the audience buy into the spiritual explanation because of the movie's clever editing.
  • Slashed Throat: One of the deaths, in which Brahms kills Cole by stabbing him in the neck with a broken shard of the doll's head.
  • Vocal Dissonance: Brahms speaks in a soft, childish voice expected of an eight year old boy when, in fact, he's a huge, hulking man. He even keeps this up while pursuing Greta through the house, making it even more creepy. The only time he uses his real, adult voice is when he screams at her not to leave him and threatens to kill Malcolm.
  • Wham Shot: After Cole smashes the doll's head, the mirror shatters outwards towards him. Then a man, wearing a doll-like mask, climbs out from behind the broken mirror. Surprise, Brahms has been alive and living in the house all along...
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Greta mistakes her current predicament for a haunted house and a possessed doll when in actuality an adult Brahms is living within the walls of the house and is the one making the noise and moving things. Her attempts to appease the 'spirit' seem to work, however, so she continues down that path and isn't proven wrong until The Reveal.