Director William Brent Bell returns with a new chapter in the Brahms saga. The series began in 2016 and starred The Walking Dead‘s Lauren Cohen as a young nanny whose latest charge, Brahms, was rather odd…well he was a doll. All manner of spooky goings-on occurred around the doll, but their source was revealed to be less than supernatural in origin. Now four years later, Katie Holmes takes over the reins. She plays Liza, a mother whom relocates to the Heelshire Mansion’s Guest House with her husband in a bid to help her son Jude (Christopher Convery). Sinister happenings arise once more after Jude discovers Brahms, could there be more to the doll than meets the eye after all?
Proof that not every film warrants a sequel, Brahms’ existence actually takes some of the (limited) sparkle off of its predecessor. The rules are inexplicably changed, opening up vast plot holes within both movies. What made The Boy such an intriguing prospect is that it spent the majority of the run time convincing you that the doll was alive, only to spin things on their head and have it be a man running around in the walls. The biggest sin that Brahms makes is that it retrofits the narrative of the first film and twists things so that Brahms is just an evil doll. Liza uncovers a vast history of people in the house, murders, and Brahms, completely wiping out the fact that Brahms was named and created in the likeness of the Heelshire’s ‘deceased’ son.
Were the film to be directed by someone new it would be easier to understand them wanting to make their stamp on the series by switching things up. However, the fact that it is in fact the same director behind the lens just leads to a lot of bafflement. Sadly the film’s weaknesses don’t lie purely in the shift in narrative direction; the film falls into every pitfall going. There’s lots of the classic ‘walking around in the dark rather than switching on a light’, a jump scare in nearly every scene, and an uncertain geography to both location and setting.
Firstly, the Heelshire Mansion seemingly gets closer and further away from the Guest House as the film goes along, tending to be the distance that creates the most dramatic tension. Secondly, the film is set in England, but clearly is not England on the screen. Granted, several of the supporting actors have over the top regional accents, but try as they might, it can’t cover the fact that we just don’t have vegetation like that on display. Given the other liberties that have been taken, and that it’s the doll himself that is bad, why not change the setting entirely and have him show up someplace else? A plus for the supposedly rural house though is that the WiFi connection is incredible, not a hint of a judder during any of the family’s Facetimes with Jude’s therapist.
If there’s a saving grace to Brahms, it’s that the film is over before it has begun. At just shy of eighty-five minutes, the film doesn’t have time to stagnate and races from one drama to another. This could all too easily have fallen into the trap that many films make these days and tried to stretch itself out to the hundred minute mark, but thankfully in that respect, Bell has some sense.
If you like films that go BANG with their scare, then this is the movie for you. Lacking subtlety and that thin vein of originality that the first film had, Brahms: The Boy II is a rather generic and uninspired scary movie.
Brahms: The Boy II is in cinemas now.
Brahms: The Boy II
The glimmer of originality sparked in The Boy is stripped away here in favour of morphing the story into a standard creepy doll haunted house movie.