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'The Boy' plays the real horrors of domestic abuse for creeps

 'The Boy' plays the real horrors of domestic abuse for creeps
Lauren Cohan in "The Boy." (David Bukach / STX Productions)

In "The Boy," Greta (Lauren Cohan) arrives at a crumbling English country castle to work as a nanny and escape from a potentially violent ex back home in the States. She soon discovers that her charge is a living doll — not the benign "Anomalisa" variety but, rather, the "Dead Silence" type or Chucky from "Child's Play."

Greta has been given a litany of strict rules from her employers, the Heelshires, which include waking, dressing, feeding, reading to and tucking in bed the porcelain doll named Brahms each day, directives that she flagrantly disregards. Only we viewers know that's a huge mistake that will prove deadly over the course of the film.

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Brahms is not only creepily scary but also creepily pervy. He runs off with Greta's dress and jewelry while she's in the shower, cuts her hair while she's asleep and peeps through the keyhole when she disobeys one of the house rules and spends some sexy time with grocery deliveryman Malcolm (Rupert Evans).

What starts off as an allegory for abusive relationships turns literal, as beleaguered Greta flees from one abuser only to unwittingly become the prisoner of another. If only writer Stacey Menear and director William Brent Bell took the very real horrors of domestic abuse as seriously as they do the virtual horror of paranormal activity.

"The Boy"

MPAA rating: PG-13 for violence and terror, and for some thematic material

Running time: 1 hour, 38 minutes

Playing: In general release

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