The problem with killer-doll movies is that viewers can justifiably yell out, at pretty much any moment, “Just kick it in the face!” And so filmmakers must come up with increasingly more ridiculous reasons why the main character can’t do that, like failing to check under the bed for an ankle-slashing doll or tottering on a chair near an open window to reach some innocuous item on a high shelf despite the sound of tiny footsteps elsewhere in the apartment. Seriously, it’s little, it’s light—just kick it in the face and leave.
Thankfully, The Boy, starring The Walking Dead’s Lauren Cohan, seems to have found a way around that issue. Although the trailer boasts all the hallmarks of the doll-slasher subgenre—which mostly consist of the doll not being where someone left it a few minutes prior, over and over again—it also teases some familiar evil-ghost devices, such as a backstory about a deceased child and an attic ladder being yanked by an invisible force. There’s also a scene where Cohan’s character seems to be flung across the room, and we’re pretty sure even an angry doll couldn’t do that. All of this suggests that the real malevolent force isn’t confined to the doll, i.e., is something you can’t just kick in the face.
This development would give us hope, except the presence of director William Brent Bell—who made The Devil Inside, a film that made us shudder for all the wrong reasons—and the January 22, 2016 release date have already snuffed it out.