No one walks into a movie called Brahms: The Boy 2 expecting a masterpiece, but for the love of Brahms, why is this thing so boring? William Brent Bell‘s follow-up to his mostly okay The Boy has a new group of people being plagued by a tiny antique doll, and expands the mythology, taking it to increasingly silly places. But silly would be fine if The Boy 2 was at least a little bit entertaining. It’s not.
The Boy was an atmospheric thriller in which a young woman became convinced a creepy, Jared Kushner-looking doll was alive. The doll was being cared for, and treated like a real boy, by an elderly couple who lost their son, Brahms, in a fire. Did Brahms’ spirit inhabit the doll after his death? Nope. In a surprise twist, The Boy revealed that the doll was not alive at all. Instead, the real Brahms was still alive – and hiding in the walls of his big, spooky mansion. With that twist in mind, you might think a sequel would be a tricky thing. But Brahms: The Boy 2 comes up with a simple solution: It more or less reboots itself and throws in a bunch of new developments. Because here it seems very much like Brahms is alive – turning his head, twitching his eyes, pulling a spooky smile. Or is it all an illusion? And do you even care?
The Boy 2 opens with Liza (Katie Holmes) being brutally attacked during a late-night home invasion. Liza’s son Jude (Christopher Convery) witnesses the assault, and it traumatizes him so much that he stops talking, communicating via words in a sketchpad. Hoping for a fresh start, Liza and husband Sean (Owain Yeoman) pack up and move themselves and Jude to a country house. The gorgeous, secluded house was originally built as a guest house for a much bigger manse, and wouldn’t you know it, that bigger place just happens to be the big, spooky mansion that Brahms used to live in.
During a walk in the woods, Jude discovers Brahms the doll buried in a shallow grave. Like any normal child, Jude decides he wants to keep this filthy, creepy doll, and his parents are fine with that. And while Liza is immediately put-off by the site of Brahms, she starts to think keeping the doll around might be a good thing when she and Sean overhear Jude talking to it. But the enthusiasm quickly drains the more Liza begins to suspect the doll might be alive. And to make matters worse, Jude starts to dress just like Brahms, and may or may not be responsible for some terrible deeds. Or not. Really, it doesn’t matter, because nothing in this movie has weight.
Anytime The Boy 2 suggests that something might be about to happen, it pulls back. There are countless fake-out scares here – where someone completely harmless steps into frame and the soundtrack blasts out a loud, booming note. As for genuine scares, uh…well, there aren’t any. There are one or two shots of Brahms that are somewhat creepy – there’s one particular scene where Liza is checking the doll for some sort of identifying marker, and while Brahms’ face is out-of-focus, we can see a small smile creep onto his doll lips. It’s effective, and you wish like hell there were more moments like that in this exercise in drudgery.
Brahms isn’t offensively bad. You almost wish it were because at least that would inspire some sort of passionate response. Instead, the narrative just listlessly plods along, requiring Katie Holmes to spend long, silent scenes having a staring contest with a doll. Ralph Ineson shows up as a suspicious groundskeeper, and his booming voice and looming presence liven things up slightly, but he’s not in the movie enough to salvage things. And while the first Boy made the most of its gothic sets, everything in Brahms looks flat and bland.
The first Boy was all about the suggestion that Brahms might be alive, but The Boy 2 throws that completely out the window, to the point where your probably better off going into this sequel without having seen the original. And while scary living dolls have a good track record in horror films, The Boy 2 has nothing to offer. It’s a film completely devoid of energy, or atmosphere. It’s so boring at times that it’s almost impressive. When you pull away from Brahms you realize that almost nothing happens here. And we’re not talking in the playful, Seinfeld “show about nothing” sense. This is a motion picture void of motion.
/Film Rating: 4 out of 10
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