The Boy

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
The Boy Movie Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
Unoriginal but well-made "creepy doll" horror movie.
  • PG-13
  • 2016
  • 97 minutes

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 16 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 72 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Advocates not being victimized or controlled by others.

Positive Role Models & Representations

A woman learns, mainly through unfortunate circumstances, to stand up for herself.


Character is stabbed in the neck and killed. Characters commit suicide by drowning. Fighting, shouting, slamming characters against walls and floors. Dead rats, with dripping blood. Writing in blood on wall. Two or three jump-scares. A violent, obsessive ex-boyfriend threatens and manhandles a woman. Animal heads. Scary noises.


A man and a woman kiss passionately; they're clearly moving toward sex but are interrupted. She's shown in her underwear, taking a shower (no nudity), and wearing a towel. Flirting. A driver stares at a woman's cleavage in the rear-view mirror.


At least two uses of "s--t," plus "son of a bitch, "hell," and "Jesus" (as an exclamation).

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A character drinks several glasses of wine by herself. Glass of beer shown at dinner.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Boy is a "creepy doll" horror film. It's not entirely original, but it is well-made, and it could catch on with teen horror-hounds. While not overly gory, characters do die (both by stabbing and via suicide), words are written in blood on a wall, and there are scary sounds and jump-scares, characters fighting and being slammed around, and dead rats. A man and a woman kiss, moving toward sex, but they're interrupted; there's also some flirting and shots of a woman taking a shower (no graphic nudity) and wearing a towel and underwear. Language is infrequent but includes uses of "s--t," "bitch," and "hell." A character drinks wine in one sequence.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Teen, 14 years old Written by_IAmMrMuffinMan_ March 27, 2020

I personally thought it was good, but...

Spoilers at the very bottom

I grew up in a very conservative Christian family. Watching this movie with my parents, I could tell they were a little out o... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byshoelace102 November 4, 2020

TBH This Movie Sucked

Obv all fake. No parts looked real. Really cliche plot. Not even scary. No jump scares.

What's the story?

American nanny Greta (Lauren Cohan) takes a job in a remote mansion in the English countryside, where she's told she'll be looking after a boy named Brahms. But when she arrives, Greta's shocked to see that Brahms is actually a doll -- and that his "parents" (Diana Hardcastle and Jim Norton) want her to follow a daily routine with it while they're on holiday. At first, Greta ignores the doll, but then strange things start happening: Her clothes disappear, and she finds herself locked in the attic at night. A handsome grocery delivery man, Malcolm (Rupert Evans), tells her everything he knows about the family and helps out, but nothing can prepare Greta for what's really going on inside the house.

Is it any good?

While it's not a terribly original entry in the "creepy doll" horror subgenre, this fright flick nonetheless offers interesting characters, a strong cast, expert pacing, and a spooky atmosphere. Resorting to annoying jump-scares only a couple of times, director William Brent Bell (of the decidedly inferior The Devil Inside) takes his time exploring the scary old house, using animal heads, off-kilter angles, and sound to give THE BOY a sense of dread. Bell even goes back to that old standby, the shower scene, to add vulnerability to his character.

The scary things that actually happen are nothing new, but that they happen to the appealing Greta helps a great deal. She seems like a real person with good sense and an actual past, and she relates to Malcolm in a genuine way. Likewise, veteran English thespians Hardcastle and Norton bring dignity and style to their roles, which could easily have been jokey throwaways.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about The Boy's violence. Which threat was scarier, the one from real life or the one from the doll? How much violence was actually shown? What's the impact of media violence on kids?

  • Is the movie scary? How does it compare to other horror movies you've seen? What's the appeal of the horror genre? What about "scary doll" movies?

  • What would you have done in Greta's place? Take care of the doll? Ignore it and have a good time? Run?

  • Greta has been victimized by various men; does she stand up for herself? How?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love scares

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate