By John Mulderig
NEW YORK (CNS) — The antique doll of the title once again proves to be more terrorist than toy in the lackluster horror flick “Brahms: The Boy II” (STX).
While there’s little to object to in a sequel that most teens can likely handle, there’s not much entertainment value to the proceedings either.
After being traumatized by a violent home invasion, British businessman Sean (Owain Yeoman), his American wife, Liza (Katie Holmes), and their young son, Jude (Christopher Convery), temporarily relocate from London to a house in the English countryside. There Jude unearths Brahms who has, for no very apparent reason, been buried in the woods with one porcelain hand sticking up from the ground.
Veterans of the 2016 original will know going in that Brahms is a sort of malignant Charlie McCarthy, but this comes as a surprise to Sean and Liza. At first, they think he’ll provide good therapy for Jude, who has been rendered mute for a time by witnessing the intruders’ attack on his mom.
But Brahms has a whole set of rules by which everyone in the household must abide, and woe betide those who violate them. He also doesn’t care for the snarling dog that accompanies groundskeeper Joseph (Ralph Ineson) on his rounds. So it’s a safe bet that the aggressive pooch, who knows an evil figurine when he sees one, doesn’t have great prospects.
As helmed by returning director William Brent Bell and once again scripted by Stacey Menear, the movie alternates between the occasional good jolt and long periods of tedium, with the silliness of the premise never out of the frame. They go easy on the gore, preferring haunted house atmospherics and voices whispering in the distance. But it’s hard to see the point of it all.
The film contains occult themes, some stylized violence, a few gruesome images, veiled references to marital sexuality and a single instance each of profane and crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association rating is PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.