Brahms: The Boy II (2020)

“The Boy II” is one of the most inexplicable horror movies released in 2020 so far. The surprise success of the abysmal “The Boy” from 2016 (made cheap, producing big bucks) prompted the studio to make a follow up and franchise. And for some reason the writers and producers decide to completely retcon and reboot the entire mythos and story that was established from the original movie. Rather than stick to their successful formula, the original writer and director come back to reconfigure “The Boy” in to a limp, dull, and incredibly tedious “Annabelle” facsimile. It embraces all of the haunted doll clichés that’s become so common in this sub-genre wholesale, and completely ignores the 2016 horror drama.

Mom and wife Liza’s (Katie Holmes) domestic bliss is destroyed when she’s a victim to a violent home invasion. Her son Jude (Christopher Convery) is traumatized by the event after witnessing the attack. Now mute, and communicating through writing, Jude’s behavior disturbs father Sean, who decides to relocate his family to a guest house near the Heelshire Mansion, giving a rattled Liza a chance to settle her fears. While on a nature walk, Jude uncovers the doll Brahms, who’s buried in the dirt. Liza, who’s looking to reach something emotional inside of her son, allows Jude to keep the doll. Jude gradually becomes obsessed with Brahms, who communicates with the kid when they’re alone. Soon an unnerved Liza tries to get to the bottom of Brahms’s history, watching Jude’s anger (and the supernatural activity) rise.

“The Boy II” is a head scratcher of a horror movie that seemingly has no real reason to exist. Despite the original “The Boy” being such a surprise success, for some reason the studio decides to completely reboot their efforts to build this movie series revolved around a pale doll. If you loved the original movie, you might feel cheated that the follow up almost completely ignores everything you saw and learned from it. Everything involving the entire master of Brahms, and the way it operates is completely changed to where only the doll is really what remains from the foundation laid in the original film. “The Boy II” is a completely routine and yes, terrible, horror drama that has every single opportunity to confront actually relevant overtones and does nothing with them.

“The Boy II” could explore the aftermath of trauma, the way it breaks apart relationships, and the idea that it can almost always make us doubt ourselves. Instead Stacey Menear just chooses to use the backdrop of trauma to stage endless weak jump scares and shocks that fail at every turn. The script feels so paper thin and the movie just peppers the narrative with red herrings, nightmare sequences, lame jump scares, and a goofy book end of an finale. All said, the cast is just fine, including Katie Holmes is strong as mom Liza who is attempting to comprehend what’s unfolding with her son. Otherwise, “The Boy II” embraces all of the killer doll movie clichés and charges head first in to establishing a franchise without any real care toward building a terrifying horror villain of substance.