Brahms: The Boy II Review: Save your money instead of seeing this remarkably bland horror sequel
When the trailer initially dropped for Brahms: The Boy II, the sequel to the lukewarmly received but financially profitable 2015 horror film The Boy, I didn’t really need to know what to make of it. Was this a sequel that is just taking a supernatural turn or was it going to end up being a surprise prequel that connects to the Brahms we saw living in the walls at the end of the first film? Either way the film certainly had quite an uphill battle to prove its worth and while, after seeing it, I can tell you that this a bonafide sequel taking a sharp turn into the supernatural, this confirmation didn’t make anything better.
The film follows Liz (Katie Holmes), the survivor of a break-in gone wrong that traumatizes her and her son Jude (Christopher Convery). Looking to start anew, Liz’s husband Sean (Owain Yeoman) suggests moving out of London and in the quiet countryside. This leads them to move into the Heelshire Mansion and as they explore the woods around them, Jude comes across a doll nearly buried into the ground. Although he’s been mute since witnessing his mother being attacked, Jude develops a special connection with the doll – which he is told is named Brahms. After some strange events and finding out about the Heelshire Mansion’s disturbing history that’s connected to Jude’s new doll, Liz must figure out what’s really going on with Brahms before Jude is completely overtaken by his dark influences.
The opening was actually very surprising in how it subverts your expectations of the characters from how they’re presented in the trailer. Rather than Jude being the disturbed child he’s shown to be in the trailer, he’s more traumatized and the opening with him and Liza dealing with violent home invaders does make you grow some care for them. The trauma they face is actually kind of interesting and the way Jude only communicates through writing is a solid way to convey the internal fear he feels. Even Holmes does a decent job showing Liz’s trauma, but it ends up being just an excuse for them to go to the Heelshire Mansion because the film does nothing to develop these characters. There’re no satisfying arcs that sees them overcome their issues and their trauma only comes into play when the film decides to implement some cheap, ineffective scares that connect to it.
It’s actually kind of incredible how many horror clichés can be found in this and there’re so many that it’d be tough to name them all – but I guess I take a shot at it. There’s an over-abundance of dream sequences, the set-ups for Brahms creating creepy moments are just one-second he not doing something and then he is, the Liz’s husband is just your typical disappearing and disbelieving dad, Liz is the typical “crazy woman” that no one believes, Joseph (Ralph Ineson) is just the crazy neighbor/local who doubles as the “harbinger” character, only Joseph’s dog and other animals can detect the evil presence in Brahms, there’s an internet search scene of Liz looking up the haunting history of where they are, and the list can go on and on. Even the storytelling is incredibly cliché and the scene of Liz searching about Brahms’ past is one of the worst information dumps I’ve ever seen. Worst of all, the film is completely lacking effective scares so there’s a distinct lack of energy or pulse that viewers can cling onto. All in all, it’s just plain dull and boring.
The sequel’s turn to the supernatural doesn’t even make anything more interesting and ruins the interesting subversion that happens in the original. With the reveal that Brahms had actually been living in the walls, the original actually subverted a lot of expectations that were made about the film because of what creepy doll films had become. Here, all of that is retconned away for a lame supernatural element the film does not want to delve into. It just creates a lot of question it doesn’t feel like answering – like why the list of rules or why the doll is even haunted at all. It just wants to string viewers along enough to reach its nonsensical conclusion wraps up so quickly that it’s completely unsatisfying and makes no sense because of the events of the first. Not to mention, the film doesn’t even want to have fun with Brahms having supernatural power and things could’ve been better if there’re more moments of the doll actually doing things on-screen – aside from eye-rolling and head turning.
Brahms’ return to big screen is nothing more than a straight to DVD sequel that has somehow snuck its way into theaters. It’s the kind of horror sequel that no one wants as it doesn’t even respect the solid elements of the original. It’s devoid of fun scares, interesting characters, unique ideas, and is simply not worth anyone’s time. Even the most die-hard of horror fans should save their money on upcoming films, like The Invisible Man and A Quiet Place: Part 2, that will likely have much better things to add to the genre.