Movies

The Entire Plot Of ‘Brahms: The Boy II’ Recreated With Perplexed Review Quotes

Last year gave us Us in March, but thus far 2020 hasn’t been great for horror movies. Us production company Blumhouse released Fantasy Island last week, which not only didn’t screen for critics but didn’t even screen Thursday night, which seems like something studios only do when they’re trying to avoid inevitably negative reviews and Cinemascores (which horror movies tend to get anyway). It’s currently at 10% and earned a modest $13 million last weekend.

This week brings us Brahms: The Boy II, leaving many to wonder if they’d missed Brahms: The Boy I. It does have a predecessor, The Boy, which came out in 2016 and made $74 million worldwide. A solid profit, but probably not enough to warrant trying to crowbar the protagonist’s name into the title, Rambo-style. Four years is also a long time to wait for a sequel to a creepy doll movie.

Nonetheless, Dolls II Men creeps into theaters today, and while it also didn’t screen for critics, there were just enough brave reviewers paying their own way into Thursday night screenings to give us fodder for our favorite game, Plot Recreated With Reviews, in which we attempt to piece together an entire movie using nothing but expository quotes from reviews. Some movies are just better experienced this way. Incidentally, 8% of critics reviewed this one positively thus far. Or to put it another way, one guy, who rated it a perfectly acceptable 3 out of 5.

Anyway, let’s begin. If you’d like to turn this into a drinking game, I suggest taking a swig at every use of the word “creepy.”

PROLOGUE

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 – (SlashFilm)

a creepy, masked adult, who lived in the walls of a spooky old mansion. (LA Times)

As required by B-movie plotting he took a knife to the gut and died, so how to continue? (EntertainmentVoice)

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? (SlashFilm)

THE PRESENT

This time around the story begins in an urban apartment where (EntertainmentVoice)

Jude (Christopher Convery) sleeps in a room decorated in Tim Burton/Charles Addams style and likes to play scary pranks on his mom Liza (Katie Holmes). (Rue Morgue)

But he doesn’t know what true terror is until (Rue Morgue)

Liza falls victim to burglars dressed like high-grade assassins. (EntertainmentVoice)

Jude witnesses the brutal attack, and it traumatizes him so much that he stops talking. (SlashFilm)

He just scribbles notes on his pad, in between pages upon pages of the most morbid memories of that awful night scrawled in alarming drawings. (RogersMovieNation)

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. (SlashFilm)

The place comes complete with a groundskeeper (gravely-voiced Ralph Ineson from THE WITCH) who glowers and constantly carries a broken-open shotgun, but otherwise seems like a decent guy. (Rue Morgue)

A WALK IN THE WOODS

During a walk in the woods, Jude discovers Brahms the doll buried in a shallow grave. (SlashFilm)

Always a good sign when your kid finds a creepy doll buried with its clothes in a coffin in the creepy woods. (RogerEbert.com)

Like any normal child, Jude decides he wants to keep this filthy, creepy doll, and his parents are fine with that. (SlashFilm)

He conveniently has a tattered list of rules for his care. (EntertainmentVoice)

What’s the dolly’s name, son?

“Brahms” he writes. “Like the composer,” Dad says. “How’d you come up with that?”

“He told me.” (RogersMovieNation)

Jude brings him into the house, demanding that mom and dad follow the rules and treat the doll-like a person. (LA Times)

(“No guests.” Brahms must take his meals with Jude. “Never leave me alone.”). (RogersMovieNation)

And while Liza is immediately put-off by the sight of Brahms, she starts to think keeping the doll around might be a good thing when she and Sean overhear Jude talking to it. (SlashFilm)

Jude has gone mute, and Brahms seems to open him up. (RogerEbert.com)

But the enthusiasm quickly drains (SlashFilm)

…as Jude adopts a creepier posture and dead-eyed stares. Mom starts to wonder if Brahms is possessed and ordering Jude around. (RogerEbert.com)

To make matters worse, Jude starts to dress just like Brahms, and may or may not be responsible for some terrible deeds. (SlashFilm)

As always, the doll’s blank face and soulless eyes make even the most routine “What’s the bump?” and “Who moved that furniture?” moments moderately more spine-tingling. (LA Times)

We see his eyes and head move in cartoonish, horribly rendered ways, although you keep telling yourself that it could be a product of mom’s trauma, which has been leading her to have a few hallucinations of her own. (RogerEbert.com)

Things get more intense as Jude starts relaying how unhappy Brahms is with mom and dad. (RogerEbert.com)

EXPOSITION!

Liza researches Brahms’s history thanks to a production number stamped on his foot, learning what the doll has been up to for the last century. Obviously, this revelation gives Bell a chance to detail Brahms’s reign of terror for additional movies (BluRay.com)

…a lot of dreary and disappointing explanations of things that don’t really need a raison d’être. (LA Times)

But more effort should really be focused on “Boy II,” which doesn’t take it easy on Joseph’s dog, Oz, and displays little hesitation to inflict pain on additional children, with Brahms showing little patience for Jude’s bullies and the kid himself, who’s transformed into something other than a clear-eyed pre-teen after time spent becoming a household representative for the toy. (BluRay)

THE SCARES

There are countless fake-out scares here – where someone completely harmless steps into frame and the soundtrack blasts out a loud, booming note. (SlashFilm)

Furniture movement, shifting doll eyes, the cliched music stings, and the jump scares that accompany haunted dolls all play out predictably. (Bloody-Disgusting)

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. (SlashFilm)

As for genuine scares, uh…well, there aren’t any. (SlashFilm)

Nothing in the picture is interesting, but that doesn’t stop the filmmakers, who serve up jump scares and loose mythology while presenting a more mean-spirited take on violence, which is almost exclusively focused on children and animals (BluRay.com).

A mean cousin who comes to visit and makes fun of the doll gets his just desserts with a spike poking out of the ground. (EntertainmentVoice)

THE ACTING

The Boy‘s Lauren Cohan has been replaced here with Holmes, a star of higher wattage yet one with a more limited skillset on display, playing her part with such an uninvolved lethargy it’s a miracle she doesn’t keep nodding off mid-scene. (TheGuardian)

The narrative just listlessly plods along, requiring Katie Holmes to spend long, silent scenes having a staring contest with a doll. (SlashFilm)

Colon-loving Holmes, next seen in self-help adaptation The Secret: Dare to Dream, is so absent here that claiming she was on autopilot would suggest that she’s actually in the cockpit. She’s somewhere else entirely, probably sleepily wondering the same thing we are: why does Brahms: The Boy II exist and why is she starring in it? (The Guardian)

She also keeps a close eye on neighbor Joseph, who seems to know a thing or two about the doll. (BluRay)

Joseph has a habit of simply popping up with his rifle. Who pays him or how he lives is never explained. (EntertainmentVoice)

His booming voice and looming presence liven things up slightly, but he’s not in the movie enough to salvage things (SlashFilm)

He wanders the grounds and clearly has either a big secret or is just there for an exposition dump in the final act. (RogerEbert.com)

THE PRESTIGE

Everything in Brahms looks flat and bland. (SlashFilm)

There’s something willfully unscary about what follows, as if director William Brent Bell is trying to prove a point, shining a light on the sheer pointlessness of this kind of by-the-numbers genre trash by turning the film into an almost satirically suspense-free exercise. (The Guardian)

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. (SlashFilm)

It’s so punishingly dull to watch, filled with dry, perfunctory dialogue from Stacey Menear’s consistently uninventive script and shot without even a glimmer of style, that even at a brisk 86 minutes, it feels like unending torture. (The Guardian)

This is a motion picture void of motion. (SlashFilm)

There are no stakes. It’s a ghost story with no ghosts; a slasher pic with no slashing; an atmosphere with no, well, you get it. (RogerEbert)

It’s a carelessly made slab of nonsense, ferried along a production line without emotion or enthusiasm, assembled by a team of inelegant charlatans feigning interest in a genre they seemingly know very little about. (The Guardian)

[Editor’s Note: The Guardian’s Benjamin Lee was clearly attempting to reimagine Tupac’s “Hit ‘Em Up” as a peevish British film review]

FINAL THOUGHTS

Even the fun reversal of the first film, that the doll isn’t actually alive but instead, a man is living in the walls, is ruined by a finale that buckles under the weight of its own stupidity, as well as some god-awful CGI. (The Guardian)

The third act’s a career-killing embarrassment. (RogersMovieNation)

It breaks a cardinal rule of genre filmmaking which is that if your film isn’t going to make much sense, it at least needs to be fun. (Rogerebert.com)

Roll credits before it even gets to 90 minutes. After all, they have to leave something for “The Boy III.” (RogerEbert.com)

The only time BRAHMS: THE BOY II inspires any serious thought is during the end credits, which reveal that one of the production’s chefs was named Tom Cruise, leading one to wonder if he was the one who cooked for Holmes. (Rue Morgue)

How’s that for a final act twist? One more thing we can blame on Scientology.

Vince Mancini is on Twitter. You can access his archive of reviews here.

×