Lauren Cohan considers herself someone who was a horror genre fan when she was younger. The Walking Dead star might deal with battling zombies on a regular basis and confronting a doll-come-to-life in the new film The Boy, but lately she just gets too creeped out to watch horror.
“It’s just funny to me that I can do it but not watch it,” she said.
When the opportunity to do The Boy came about, Cohan wanted to take an emotional rest. But after reading the script she just couldn’t say no. Everything from the plot to the leading lady, Greta, was just too enticing.
“I just read it and I just had no expectation of the twist,” she said. “I was completely gripped until the end of the film. I was spooked; I was scared. You start off with this girl who’s on the run and then she sort of fortifies herself and becomes a badass chick by the end of it. Okay, I want to do this.”
In The Boy, a woman named Greta moves from the States to take on a nanny job in a small village in England. Only when she arrives she discovers that the family’s child is actually a life-size doll and the parents have cared for him like a real boy as a way to cope with the loss of their son Brahms 20 years earlier. Brahams comes with a distinct list of rules, but when Greta violates some of those rules she gets some disturbing consequences that lead her to believe that the doll is actually alive.
“It’s a huge choice,” she said of Greta’s decision to move her life. “To not back out hints at what she’s running from and why she has to stay.”
For Cohan, portraying Greta allowed her to take on a character that was very relatable in a sense as she’s a flawed person who doesn’t always make the right decision. That’s something that we as people can relate to and it shows in her honest portrayal of the character.
“I like characters that you can see the right and the wrong and you can see all of the flaws in them because we can make really strange choices in life sometimes,” Cohan said. “I definitely do it all the time. But I think what I liked is that she didn’t have it all figured out. She was just flying by the seat of her pants and kept trying to make the right decisions and that’s relatable to me”
In the film, Greta moves from the United States to England, which is actually reminiscent of Cohan’s own journey when she was 13 years old and made the same move.
“This journey was like, ‘England, whoa, what is this magical place? Let’s go experience this’” she said. “So I sort of revisited a lot of that in making this film in the wonder of this country. She goes to live in this stately home and it isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.”
As fans of horror are aware, dolls are no new entity in the genre. But Cohan acknowledged that there’s a distinct difference between Brahms and some of the other dolls that we’ve encountered in horror films before. There’s a sense of sympathy towards Brahms that doesn’t make this another film about an inanimate object come-to-life to that launches into a killing rampage.
“You sort of fall in love with this character,” she said. “We’ve seen a lot of dolls and clowns and evil characters in horrors that come to life. The Boy definitely doesn’t start off that way, and I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone because you do sort of see him, and you know there’s something up with it. But at least the experience my character has is that he’s this lonely little boy, and there’s a reason this family is taking care of this doll and pretending it’s a kid and you feel sympathy toward it. I’ve never felt sympathy for Chucky.”
In a horror genre that can seem over-saturated at times, Cohan said that what makes The Boy different from other horror films is its classic take on the genre.
“It’s a horror in a very classic sense; in sort of an old-fashioned elegance, but it also has these twists that are really going to surprise people,” she said. “When I read the script it reminded me of The Others in how it was this period piece that was very still and elegant but still scared the bejeezus out of you.”
And, boy, does it do that.
The Boy is now playing in theaters.