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‘Brahms: The Boy II’ is as empty as its porcelain doll

‘Brahms: The Boy II’ is as empty as its porcelain doll

‘Brahms: The Boy II’ is as empty as its porcelain doll
February 25
14:00 2020

Light spoilers discussed

“When will this movie end!?”

After a traumatic home invasion, Liza (Katie Holmes) moves with her family to an estate in the British countryside. While settling in, her mute son, Jude (Christopher Convery) discovers the eponymous doll interred in the dirt. While Jude seems to be using the doll to help himself recover from his trauma, Liza notices that something seems to be up in the house, while a mysterious groundskeeper seems to know more than he’s initially letting on . . .

“The Boy” from 2016 was a mediocre horror movie that only really had a neat twist going for it, that kind of deconstructed the “possessed creepy doll” genre. This sequel takes that twist, bashes it over the head and chucks it into the sun.

Let’s look at those positives first — the acting, for one. Holmes is mostly convincing as a housewife who’s fighting her trauma,  Owen Yeoman is fine as her husband while Convery sometimes overdoes the disturbed child behavior. You know the kind.

The most pleasant surprise was seeing Ralph Ineson (“The Witch,” “Game of Thrones”) as the ominous groundskeeper, Joseph. He gets the opportunity to ham it up in the end and his presence is underscored with a veiled threat, assisted by his gravelly voice and mannerisms.

The musical score also consists of little pieces that are variations of real songs from the actual Johannes Brahms, which is neat.

The film is also slickly more produced than its predecessor . . . and that’s it for the positives.

I’m just going to say this is by far the worst movie I’ve seen so far this decade and one of the worst I’ve seen in years. I hated and painfully felt every second of the 87-minute running time pass through each dull sequence in the story.

That cool twist from the first film where it’s not actually the doll pulling shenanigans? Gone. It’s been turned into a tired possessed doll movie. I would say that’s a spoiler, but the trailers gave it away and so did the movie in the first 25 minutes. Instead of exploring Jude and Liza’s lingering traumas from their experiences, it’s purely a supernatural tale with all the psychological threads being used more as excuses to let the plot progress rather than anything of substance worth exploring.

Usually, January is where all the worst cheap, cash-grab horror schlock gets shoveled out. This time, however, the geniuses at STX Entertainment decided to postpone this turd to February.

The somewhat oppressive atmosphere from last time? Gone. In fact, most of the movie takes place in a modern guest house — a completely different, and less interesting, setting than the Heelshire Estate. The latter is briefly explored twice, but it lacks any of that creepy gothic feeling it originally had.

What makes these choices baffling is that this isn’t the result of new people misunderstanding the original, it’s the same exact screenwriter and director from the first film who threw all the best parts out of the window. It felt like they were openly giving up any idea of creativity and going straight for a cheap cash-grab, which is the only remote reason this movie exists at all.

As for the scares, it’s fake-outs and large amounts of nothing. No real tension here, just loud blaring and scare chords. I wasn’t shaking from any scares, I was shaking at the fact the movie when I realized the movie wasn’t close to the end. Did I mention it’s only 87 minutes?

The climax is the only time where the film builds up to anything remotely close to exciting and then it almost immediately fizzles out. I actually had my interest piqued near the end and then . . . the movie reminded me I was watching “The Boy II” and went right back to being boring.

I would say I was disappointed, but who wanted a sequel to “The Boy” in the first place?

The last gripe I have with the film is there is a bully named “Will.” This is anti-Will propaganda and I’m appalled by the filmmakers shoving their bigoted viewpoints to cater to those who will support even the worst kinds of movies as long as they support their worldviews. I know some Wills have committed horrifying atrocities, like when Will Ferrell made “Holmes & Watson,” but that is no excuse to create a character that attacks all Wills. You are on the wrong side of history.

This is an incredibly generic sequel and even emptier as a standalone horror movie. There is hardly any ounce of creativity in this beast, and any time it promises to come out, it gets crushed under the heel of the unimaginative boot of cliche.

If you want a horror film that explores the journey of a mother and her son recovering from psychological trauma and depression, I would suggest “The Babadook.” As for something currently in theatres, fellow writer Jaden Oberkrom said that “The Lodge” was pretty decent . . .

“Brahms: The Boy II” is garbage — it takes up space, has a horrid stench and is useful to no one . . . Except if you want to make fun of something stupid, but I don’t think there would be any fun in even doing that to this dung heap.

Final rating: .75/5

Featured Illustration: Jae-Eun Suh

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Will Tarpley

Will Tarpley

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