Catatan Produksi Film The Boy (2016)
About the Production
“I wanted to make a classic haunted-house story,” says Bell. “I figured it was the perfect next step for me. The script is character-driven, layered and subtle, but at the same time really frightening. So much happens in the film, which is rare for a scary movie. There’s also a great twist, which was a blast to direct. We all thought we could make something that would last forever and I hope that is what we made.”
Keeping events rooted in reality is key to terrifying audiences, the director says. “When you’re alone in your house, strange things happen,” Bell says. “You wake up in the middle of the night and you think you hear footsteps. Sounds seem so much louder. Every little thing plays on your imagination. Our main character, Greta, is in a huge, unfamiliar house. We can’t tell if the things that happen are just in her head. She sees and hears little things that could just be tricks of the imagination. It could just be her going a little bit insane from the paranoia of being alone in a rambling place in the middle of nowhere.”
For screenwriter Stacey Menear, the inspiration for his first produced feature film, The Boy, goes back to his childhood and the supremely scary thrillers he enjoyed while growing up. From The People Under the Stairs and The Innocents to classic “Twilight Zone” episodes, Menear drew from a wide-ranging array of influences to create a truly original, chilling new tale.
“I really love stories that deal with characters learning something through a terrifying event,” says Menear, whose 2009 screenplay Mixtape was included on the prestigious Hollywood Blacklist of best unproduced scripts. “Scary dolls have always fascinated me. So I started to do some research on them and found out that are there are a lot of them around in real life. There are dolls that are supposedly haunted and others are said to have come to life. Starting from there, I tried to build in something a little different that would be unexpected and scary and really fun to watch.”
An early draft of Menear’s eerie tale attracted the attention of producer Matt Berenson, whose resume ranges from the acclaimed drama The Place Beyond the Pines to the recent reboot of the quintessential monster movie, I, Frankenstein. Berenson brought the script to Lakeshore Entertainment, where top executives instantly recognized its potential as an intriguing character study with elements of both classic horror and supernatural psychological thriller. “It was a very well-written script with an unusual twist that we didn’t see coming,” says Rosenberg.
Among the script’s selling points for Lakeshore were its uniqueness and the way it keeps audiences guessing right up until the surprising conclusion, says Wright. “It’s difficult to pigeonhole this film, which is one of the things we liked about it,” adds producer Richard Wright, “What I can say is that by page 20, I had to turn to the end, because I could not wait to see what happened. I knew something weird was going to happen, but what was it? I just couldn’t stand the suspense.”
Once Lakeshore had acquired the script and the producers began looking for a director, they set their sights on William Brent Bell to direct. Bell had already had a resounding success with his low-budget horror hit, The Devil Inside, and was poised to take on a bigger project. Bell, who is known to his colleagues as Brent, saw an opportunity to do something provocative and unique.
“We really wanted to make sure it was somebody who had worked in this milieu before,” says Lucchesi.”The Devil Inside was truly terrifying and extremely well-directed. It was made for about a million dollars, and it ended up grossing over $50 million.”
Initial meetings with Bell impressed the producers even more and convinced them he was the right director for the film. “I liked him from the moment we started talking,” Lucchesi says. “He brought another level of artistry to the film and was an absolute joy to work with. He’s great with the actors, plus he understands scary and how to edit to achieve maximum thrills.”
Bell’s preparation and proven expertise in the genre convinced the producers he was the right director to realize the enormous potential of Menear’s script. “He was impressively articulate in explaining what he would do for the movie,” Rosenberg says. “It was clear he could handle the subtleties. This is as much a psychological thriller as it is a horror film. There are plenty of scares, but they work because of the tension Brent creates throughout, not from the actual event themselves. You won’t see what’s coming.”
Bell says that although he regularly receives some pretty scary screenplays for consideration, it is rare for him to find one this good. “A girl alone in a strange house has been done a lot,” he says. “It’s hard to find a unique approach to that, but Stacey keeps everything moving and he keeps you guessing throughout the entire script. As the story progresses, you want to know what’s going to happen with this doll. Stacey constructed a twist that will have people talking now and will stand the test of time as a classic thriller.”
The director brought new ideas and energy to the script, says Menear. “Brent’s ideas sharpened a lot of the scares and pushed me to find the characters in a way that I hadn’t before. He helped make the whole script more grounded. I loved watching my characters spring to life. I wrote it in a specific way and then it became something new. It was really fun to be surprised by my own writing.”
According to producer Wright, Bell has packed the film with the kinds of “jump scares” that will delight audiences. “Brent is a master of creating jump scares,” says the producer. “He knows how to make them work without being cheesy. Honestly, you’re going to jump right out of your skin. In addition to that, he creates a creepy, unsettling feeling of dread underlying everything.”
A terrifying and suspense-filled ride, The Boy will have audiences glued to their seats. “If you go the movies to be scared, this will scare you,” Wright says. “It’s funny because in real life, you would do whatever you could not to be in this situation. The characters in the film are in terrible danger and there’s a certain glee we get from that. You feel that something menacing is lurking just out of sight, and yet you go deeper and deeper into the danger zone alongside Greta.”
The movie’s final moments will be unforgettable, promises Menear. “I think people will be blown away. If you watch it a second time, you will see all kinds of clues scattered throughout, but while you’re watching it, you won’t see it coming.”