Creative Decisions in Brahms: The Boy II Manage to Actually Make the First Film Worse
Title: Brahms: The Boy II
First Wide Release: February 19, 2020 (Theatrical Release)
Director: William Brent Bell
Writer: Stacey Menear
Runtime: 86 Minutes
Starring: Katie Holmes, Christopher Convery, Owain Yeoman
Where to Watch: $4.99 on Amazon Prime, Google Play, Youtube, Fandango Now, Vudu, and Microsoft
A married couple and their young son move to a house just off the estate of a sprawling mansion to escape the turmoil of city living. After surviving a traumatizing burglary, the parents believe this change in scenery might encourage their son to move past the terrifying event and begin speaking again. Unfortunately for them, the house they moved into has a sordid history involving a curiously creepy doll they find on the property. A sequel to the unexpectedly above average 2016 The Boy, this second installment takes aim at expanding the franchise’s mythology in a unique and special way. They missed their mark.
While the first entry in The Boy universe crafted a spooky and funhouse of horrors, this sequel takes too much liberty with its source material. Brahms: The Boy II hits all the marks of a typical angry spirit and haunted house movie. I shouldn’t need to elaborate any further on why that is such a failure for this franchise. For fans of the original, which I’d imagine aren’t sprawling crowds by any means, Brahms: The Boy II chooses to ignore much of the established mythology already built up in its first iteration. I’m sure there are better ways to continue with the story in a way that plausibly aligns with its universe, but sometimes movies can just stand alone. It’s okay to only release one movie and be done!
I’m unsure what attracted Katie Holmes to this film, but she’s the best thing about it. And that isn’t saying much. The acting is serviceable from the family. Holmes injects a little personality here and there but otherwise meanders throughout the film for its brisk 86 runtime. Christopher Convery’s Jude comes across as very annoying and the script does little to make him likable. While trauma can obviously have a terrible effect on children, Jude’s transformation feels abrupt, unearned, and frankly boring. This will probably be my most bizarre take, but the characterization of the dog is a huge plot hole and is handled incredibly poorly. I want to be clear that I blame the writing and not the hard-working [and cute] dog actor!
This dull supernatural snoozefest is shot with little fanfare or style. Aside from solid shots of the mansion and forest here and there, Brahms: The Boy II is simply a boring watch. Nothing interesting or fun happens in the script, so it does make sense to match that energy in all aspects of filmmaking. Moments that could have been scary are marred by the same visual techniques we have seen thousands of times accompanied by the same score we’ve heard in every scary movie. It’s all as lifeless as the dumb Brahms doll.
Continuing this trend of middling effort, the technical aspects of the film simply aren’t there. Aside from one really eye-catching transition from the forest to the house, during one of the few interesting scenes involving a startling revelation, the editing is largely hit or miss. The effects are also an absolute mess. The final reveal, which aims to strike fear into hearts, induces laughter instead. Forgoing technical competence, Brahms: The Boy II lacks the follow-through to sell straight horror.
From what I gather, William Brent Bell made this film to expand upon The Boy universe and launch a franchise. I am hopeful that this sequel squashes those dreams so he can try something different. Dumb, predictable, and unintentionally funny, Brahms: The Boy II’s most egregious sin is that it is boring. It completely misses the mark in both tone and direction at creating a truly engaging atmosphere. The singular one exciting scene in the entire movie, which involves croquet, is already spoiled in all the advertising. One fine scene doesn’t make a horror film. It barely even makes a tolerable first or second act! Hopefully, Bell and scriptwriter Stacey Menear can learn from their mistakes and do better next time.
Even with its decent budget and solid talent attached, Brahms: The Boy II is a startlingly below-mediocre film that is barely worth a stream on Netflix or Hulu [should they ever be dumb enough to acquire it], let alone a trip to the cinema! It’s a frustrating exercise in Hollywood taking a good, or in this case decent, property and milking all the life out of it for just a little more profit. While not the worst I’ve seen, I cannot recommend this film in any capacity. Unless bad cgi and overly complicated villain origin stories are your thing, move on.
Overall Score? 4/10