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Brahms: The Boy II
I do not recall much about it, but I remember thinking 2016 horror film The Boy was halfway decent and at least entertaining. Four years later, we get a sequel no one asked for: Brahms: The Boy II. The director and writer of the original, William Brent Bell and Stacey Menear, respectively, return here, but Brahms is little more than a convoluted bore despite the film's incessant audible stingers and attempted jump scares. I'm not sure what the f**k Katie Holmes is doing here, but I guess her career has been on ice as of late. The movie runs a brief 86 minutes, but I found myself fighting sleep as it rolled toward an uneventful, anticlimactic finale. While I always appreciate a good horror film, there is not much worth staying awake for here.
As I recall, the original film had some difficulty deciding what, exactly, was behind the porcelain mask of its antagonist doll, Brahms. That is all cleared up here, as Brahms makes it clear that its titular villain is an evil, demonic presence. The doll resurfaces after the events of the first film when Liza (Holmes), husband Sean (Owain Yeoman) and their son Jude (Christopher Convery) move across the country to live on the property of the Heelshires family. The move was triggered by a violent attack on Liza in the family's home, and it has left Jude traumatized and largely silent. Jude uncovers the doll in a shallow grave on the property, cleans it up and takes it home. Jude soon begins acting strangely, retreating to his room and occasionally telling his family about Brahms' preferences and wishes. As you recall, the doll is quite the opinionated little jerk.
The biggest problem with Brahms is that it is just completely uninteresting. The first film had the nifty gimmick of letting viewers guess whether or not the doll was evil or if something else more human was going on. The original also based its protagonist's plight on fleeing domestic abuse, so it makes sense that this film begins with the home invasion. That is an interesting start that is never capitalized upon. Liza grieves for herself and for her son, but only in a superficial manner. The entity of Brahms preys on fear, grief and isolation, but Liza ultimately allows Jude to continue his strange behavior upon advice of a therapist who feels it may bring him back to reality. This gives Brahms a way in, and the entity capitalizes on it, attempting to use Jude for its own aims.
The film attempts some slow-burn suspense in early scenes, but ultimately devolves into a mess of unimpressive jump scares, a screeching, stinger-heavy soundtrack and an unconvincing finale. I wish Brahms had gone totally over the top, and more camp might have made this film less boring. Holmes does a decent job with the material as written, and she manages to give the film some genuine human emotion. The young Convery is decent in the role, but his performance struggles in later scenes when he has to sell some eye-rolling material. Brahms makes little impact other than to induce sleep. This is an unnecessary sequel that does not add to the original, and all but the least demanding horror fans can steer clear.
The 2.39:1/1080p/AVC-encoded image is relatively strong, with ample fine-object detail and texture. The film has a rather drab appearance, with a flat color scheme, but this is no fault of the transfer. Black levels and shadow detail are good, as are skin tones and contrast. There is some minor black crush in a few low-light scenes, and I noticed some minor aliasing.
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix is appropriately atmospheric, with good effects panning, LFE response and clear dialogue. Environmental effects surround the viewer, and more action-heavy scenes feel dynamic and immersive. The score is properly balanced, and distortion is not an issue. French, Portuguese and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital dubs are included, as are English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles.
PACKAGING AND EXTRAS:
This two-disc set includes the Blu-ray, a DVD copy, and a digital copy only redeemable via iTunes. That digital copy has a director's cut of the film that runs four minutes longer than the theatrical version. The discs are packed in a standard case that is wrapped in a slipcover. Extras include an Alternate Ending (8:29/HD) and Deleted and Alternate Scenes (9:54 total/HD).
A sequel no one asked for, Brahms: The Boy II is a dead-on-arrival bore. Skip It.
William lives in Burlington, North Carolina, and looks forward to a Friday-afternoon matinee.