Review by Sean Boelman
The long-gestating sequel to 2016’s moderately successful modestly-budgeted horror flick, Brahms: The Boy II is proof that not everything that makes money needs a sequel. Taking everything that was intriguing about its predecessor and ignoring it, this film offers precious little, even for the most easily satisfied of moviegoers.
The movie tells the story of another family who comes into possession of the eponymous life-like doll, soon coming to suspect that it is having a sinister influence on their young son. Whereas the first film plays out like a psychological thriller with some obligatory jump scares, this droll sequel feels like a studio-mandated horror cash grab that couldn’t even be bothered to make an effort to build suspense.
There are a few very strong sequences in the movie, particularly in the beginning, as the script sets up a very compelling story about trauma in the first fifteen minutes, only to go in a very different direction for the rest of the film. There’s a good movie in there somewhere, but it needed a rewritten third act and some more exploration of its themes.
Perhaps the most disappointing thing about this movie is that it feels like a completely different film than the original. Although the events of the first movie are recapped (multiple times) through expositional dialogue, they are written off and explained away for the sake of convenience. As a result, any hope of originality goes out the window and this becomes just another killer doll movie.
Believe it or not, this film actually features some surprisingly decent character work, and this is the only thing that allows the movie to be watchable. The time before the doll is introduced is well-spent, attaching the viewer to the characters and creating urgent justifications that will come to be important later on in the story. Unfortunately, this is little more than a foundation, as there isn’t much of an arc to be found.
Katie Holmes is the lead of the film, and while she is obviously trying her best, even that is not enough. She simply isn’t believable in the role because her delivery is lackluster and often emotionless. In his supporting role, Ralph Inesson is the only performer who does anything memorable, but that is because he is so often over the top.
Perhaps it is due to studio intervention (it is easier to explain it that way than a loss of passion between the movies), but this film feels much more sloppy and chaotic than the first one. It frequently feels like there are multiple different movies happening at the same time, and the result is very disorienting. It is almost shocking that this was made by the same team as the original because it feels so much more soulless.
The Boy was arguably one of the better PG-13 studio horror flicks of the last decade, but Brahms: The Boy II is a near total waste of time. Apart from two or three solid scenes, nothing about this film is particularly scary, and the dramatic material is full of wasted potential.
Brahms: The Boy II is now playing in theaters.