Producers: Matt Berenson, Tom Rosenberg, Gary Lucchesi, Eric Reid, Roy Lee, Jim Wedaa and Richard S. Wright Director: William Brent Bell Screenplay: Stacey Menear Cast: Katie Holmes, Owain Yeoman, Christopher Convery, Ralph Ineson, Anjali Jay, Oliver Rice, Natalie Moon and Daphne Hoskins Distributor: STXfilms
This sequel to the 2016 horror movie looks good, with an elegant production design by John Willett and handsome cinematography by Karl Walter Lindenlaub. Otherwise it has almost nothing to recommend it, despite the efforts of a game cast.
The first movie was about a murderous boy who hid for decades in the crawlspaces behind the walls of his family’s remote estate, apparently possessed by the power of a demonic doll. It was incredibly silly; this on, which comes from the same writer and director, is even more laughable.
The picture begins with Liza (Katie Holmes) and her darling son Jude (Chistopher Convery) traumatized by home invaders while her husband Sean (Owain Yeoman) is away. As a result Jude no longer speaks, conversing only through written messages, and with the approval of his therapist (Anjali Jay), the family moves to the guest house attached to the estate where the first film occurred, now an unoccupied ruin watched by a caretaker named Joseph (Ralph Ineson).
While walking the grounds with his parents, Jude uncovers the buried doll, now restored to pristine shape, and is immediately attached to it. He takes it home, and they become bosom companions. Though Sean is distinctly slow on the uptake, Liza quickly suspects that the doll , which tells Jude its name is Brahms, has a malign influence on her son, and bad things soon begin to occur.
So what do the couple do? Why, they invite over some relatives, including Jude’s young cousin, who begins taunting the boy about his attachment to the doll. This, of course, is not a good idea, and before you can say croquet (a game whose implements play a considerable role in the latter stages of the movie), Liza and Jude are alone again as the others are off on a hospital run.
But a dangerous visitor will show up with a bundle of exposition, explaining that Jude is but the latest in a string of boys that the doll has seduced generation after generation. Before long the kid is back in the cellar of the estate, donning the porcelain mask of Brahms that the murderous hiding man had worn in the first movie and threatening his own mother, just as his possessed predecessors had menaced and killed theirs. In this case, however, Sean is around to intervene with one of those trusty croquet mallets.
Even on its own ludicrous terms, “Brahms” doesn’t make a lick of sense; the makers’ goal is apparently to fashion a gender-altered version of the unaccountably successful “Annabelle” movies in the hope of starting a new franchise. But although they tack on a perfunctory coda suggesting that Brahms isn’t done with Jude yet—quite a stretch considering that the malevolent creature, his hideous form revealed when the porcelain is shattered, has apparently been roasted in a furnace—it’s completely implausible that any further installments should be expected, since thanks to Bell’s tepid direction, “Brahms” is, quite simply, one of the dullest, most insipid horror movies of recent years.
Of course, these quickie flicks are very inexpensive to produce, and need only a decent opening weekend to break even, so anything is possible. Brahms wrote four symphonies, after all, so we might be unlucky enough to get two more movies named after him. You’d be wise to listen to his music instead.