It is March, it is a wide release horror film and it is a possessed doll film or is it? Or is the leading lady just losing her mind. All cues point to an underwhelming, cliché-ridden, cattle-prod horror film.
To escape an abusive relationship, Greta played by Lauren Cohan (The Walking Dead), travels from America for a nanny position at a country house owned by the Heelshires. They require her to look after their child, Brahms, while they take a much awaited holiday.
It is quickly revealed the child she is taking care of is a porcelain doll which they talk to and treat like a child. It is acting as a replacement for the child who, she is told, died in a fire 15 years ago.
Mr. Heelshire who his wife always calls ‘daddy’ tells Greta before they leave: “Whatever it might look like on the outside, our son is here. He is very much with us.”
They quickly depart for their holiday leaving her with a list of ten rules to follow, which are never on screen longer enough to read them all. She is left in the house alone with the occasional visit from Malcolm the grocery man played by Rupert Evans
Director William Brent Bell creates an eerie atmosphere, only resorting to jump scares on a few occasions. The recognisable shots are more agreeable than other insubstantial horrors. It plays with scenes which pay off exactly how you would expect but some sequences which start familiarly take an unexpected turn. There are, however, some doses of predictable scenes or sequences including the classic dream sequence you didn’t know was dream sequence except you obviously did because it is a horror trope. But it is clear Well has refined his technique for creating suspense since his previous forays into the horror genre with Stay Inside and The Devil Inside.
Bell also takes his time to slowly build both Greta and Malcolm’s relationship and the character themselves. Cohan does well as the film plays with whether she is losing her mind or whether the doll really is alive.
It also benefits from having a genuinely creepy doll, although it is clearly fake, there is just the right touch of realism to be chilling.
Where the film truly packs a punch though is the ending, which of course will not be ruined in this review. Modern trailers often tend to ruin endings to film, but credit where credit is due, audiences will not be expecting this one thanks to good trailer work.
Verdict: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ What seems like a run of the mill possessed doll movie cofounds expectations at times with a surprising and satisfying ending.