Close

Blu-ray Review: BRAHMS: THE BOY II

May 17 Posted by in DVD/Blu-ray, Reviews | Comments

Brahms: The Boy II is the follow-up to the 2016 horror film The Boy.

For the past five months, following a traumatic event at their home in the city, Liza (Katie Holmes) has been experiencing vivid nightmares, and her son Jude (Christopher Convery) hasn’t spoken a word. Jude communicates with his parents and therapist by writing is thoughts down on a sketchbook. Sean (Owain Yeoman) has tried to get his wife to talk about the incident, but she is unable to open up and unwilling to deal with her experience. So Sean suggests that the family take a vacation to the countryside. So, for a change of scenery, they rent the guest house at Heelshire Manor.

While exploring the forest between the main house and the guest house, Jude discovers a doll buried in the dirt and takes him home. Jude informs his parents that the doll’s name is Brahms. While this is a bit odd, Liza and Sean welcome their son’s new friend, especially after they discover that Jude is speaking again (though just in private to the doll). However, things start to get creepy. Jude begins to act out violently, blaming the doll for his bad behavior. He tells his parents that Brahms has given him a list of rules for the family to follow, and if they disobey, they will regret it. Liza starts to hear voices and the patter of tiny feet, but her traumatic experience has left her with waking nightmares, and she isn’t sure if the doll’s movements are just in her head. However, as she learns some of the gruesome rumors about the previous residents of Heelshire Manor, she starts to do her own research, and begins to wonder what kind of evil they might be dealing with.

I enjoyed Brahms: The Boy II a lot more than I expected to. I remember seeing a lot of negative reactions to the theatrical release online, and so I probably went in with lowered expectations. This sequel does a decent job of tying itself back to the first film, though the first film is hardly a prerequisite to watching this sequel. The filmmakers do an excellent job of building the tension in the first two acts, using sound quite effectively to amp up the tension—whether it’s the pattering of Brahm’s feet coming from the back of the room, the creaking walls and floors of the old mansion, or just the heartbeat-like thumping in the score. And once these sounds get the viewer in the proper mood, the film deploys some pretty effective jump scares—I nearly leapt off the couch several times.

The film doesn’t have a huge cast—in addition to the family, there are really only two other substantial characters, Jude’s therapist Dr. Lawrence (Anjali Jay), and Heelshire’s groundskeeper Joseph (Ralph Ineson). The majority of the film revolves around that really creepy doll and his friendship/control over Jude. Young star Christopher Convery is able to sell this quite well as he interacts with Brahms and deliver’s the doll’s messages to his character’s parents. I recall being impressed by the actor when he played another sinister character on Gotham a while back, and he’s quite effective in this role as well. Katie Holmes is also quite good as this troubled mother who suspects something bad is happening, but is unsure if she can trust her own mind. Owain Yeoman plays more of the nice guy dad, who is unaware of the horrors that lurk in the house—Sean suspects that Liza’s concerns are all in her mind, and a result of her never dealing with her trauma.

The film’s final act didn’t work as well for me as the first two. While the first two acts were good at building tension, they didn’t really provide enough meat to the story to set the film up for a big finale. The reveals in the final act feel a little rushed and sloppy, and the special effects in the final showdown look quite odd (I can’t really go into more detail without spoiling the ending). I actually thought the deleted/alternate material provided in the bonus features worked a lot better, and would have made for a somewhat more satisfying final showdown and alternate tag to the film. That said, I did enjoy the overall creepy, tense mood created by the film, even if the story itself was a bit lacking. And if they were to make a third The Boy movie, I would certainly check it out.

Universal’s Blu-ray release has a very solid video and audio presentation. The audio track not only provides clear dialogue but is used quite effectively to give a fully-immersive viewing experience that amplifies the tension and puts the viewer right in the middle of the action. The video is clean and detailed, and still looks quite good even in the much darker scenes. The release includes both Blu-ray and DVD discs packed in standard HD keepcase with a slipcover, as well as an insert with a code to redeem for an Apple TV-only digital copy of the film. STX films do not currently participate in Movies Anywhere, so this won’t port to any other services, but the Apple TV app is pretty readily available on many streaming devices. Universal has not released this film on 4K disc, but this digital copy redeems in 4K, giving the viewer a free picture upgrade via streaming. The bonus material includes an alternate ending (which is primarily an alternate version of the effects rather than a different ending) as well as nearly 10 minutes of alternate/deleted scenes. I actually preferred most of these alternate scenes to the versions that were used in the film. The digital copy also includes a Director’s Cut of the film (in HD only), which appears to include the previously-mentioned alternate ending.



What’s Included:

Film: (1:27:00)

    Blu-ray:

    • 1080p / Widescreen 2.39:1
    • Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, English DVS (Descriptive Video Service)
    • Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

    DVD:

    • 480i / Anamorphic Widescreen 2.39:1
    • Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1, English DVS (Descriptive Video Service)
    • Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

    Digital (code may not be valid after 5/19/2025):

    • 4K digital copy redeemable via Apple TV, not Movies Anywhere compatible

Extras:

Both the Blu-ray and the DVD discs contain the same bonus material.The Digital Copy also includes a director’s cut of the film.

  • Alternate Ending (8:29)
    This felt extremely similar to the existing ending, except that the visual effects are quite different. I actually preferred this version to the one used in the film.
  • Deleted and Alternate Scenes (9:54)
    Collection of 6 deleted/alternate scenes. I actually preferred a majority of these over their counterparts that made it into the film. Play All, or select from:

    • Extended Nightmare (1:44)
      Liza has a waking nightmare that she’s being strangled by a man dressed in black, but in this extended version, she unmasks her attacker.
    • Brahms Watches TV (1:13)
      In this alternate version, instead of just static, Brahms is watching a cartoon about a ghost wanting to be a real boy.
    • Mould Number (1:53)
      In this alternate version, just as Liza is finishes searching Brahms’ body for his mould number, Brahms’ hand swipes hers (instead of the odd flies coming out of his mouth that can be seen in the film/trailer).
    • You Don’t Understand (2:16)
      In this deleted/alternate scene, Liza tells Sean about the boy named Brahms who lived in the walls of the main house. She also opens up about her incident and how she can’t trust what she sees. Sean tells her she’s obsessing over nothing, that it’s all in her mind, and encourages her to throw out mould number.
    • Jude’s Drawings (1:41)
      In this alternate version of Liza going through Jude’s sketchbook, we see more text threats and fewer disturbing pictures of death.
    • Doll Maker (1:07)
      In this deleted scene (which was likely an alternate tag), we see Brahms being created by a doll maker, and then placed alongside a similar doll…setting up future sequels.
  • Director’s Cut (1:30:45)
    Skimming through this director’s cut, it appears to be the same as the theatrical cut, but with the Alternate Ending included instead. This is only available on the digital copy, and playback is in HD.

 


Final Thoughts:

My Rating
Film:
Video:
Audio:
Extras:
Worth a Look

Brahms: The Boy II is a decent follow-up to the first film, though it doesn’t really require the viewer to have seen that movie first. While I found the first two acts to be pretty strong, with some excellent tension-building and jump scares, I didn’t think the film quite stuck the landing at the end. Universal’s Blu-ray release provides a solid presentation (plus a 4K digital copy) as well as a small but interesting selection of deleted/alternate scenes. That inanimate doll will never not be creepy to me, and I will likely keep watching these films as long as they keep making them.