It had already been four years ago when a little film entitled "The Boy" came out and became a moderate sleeper hit. This year, director William Brent Bell and writer Stacey Menear join forces again to come up with a new horror adventure featuring the titular haunted porcelain boy doll Brahms.
Severely traumatized by a burglary in their London home, Liza (Katie Holmes) was taken on a long respite in a countryside rest house by her husband Sean (Owain Yeoman). Their son Jude (Christopher Convery), who witnessed the violent assault on his mother, was so shocked that he totally did not talk to anyone anymore after the incident. He could only communicate by writing on his sketchbook.
One day, the couple wander from their vacation home to the neighboring abandoned mansion left behind by the Heelshire family. While outside, Jude dug up a porcelain boy doll out from the forest floor, calling him Brahms. From then on, Jude would be obsessed with Brahms, obeying the rules he said the doll set and expecting even his parents to obey them. When an incredulous Liza began to disregard the rules, sinister things begin to happen.
Unlike the first movie with the all unknown cast, there was a well-known actress playing the female lead here, and that was Katie Holmes. While she still had film projects over the recent years, she had not been in any popular film ever since she played Rachel Dawes in "Batman Begins" (2005). She was the target of most of the jump scares and psychological torture throughout the film, and she brought us along her harrowing ride.
Owain Yeoman played the supportive and patient husband Sean. Conveniently he was usually absent when something strange happens to Liza, lending doubts to her precarious sanity.
Christopher Convery played a very creepy Jude, especially in that grim silent mode whenever Brahms possessed him. Ralph Ineson played Joseph, the mysterious watchman of the grounds, who turned out to know more about things than he was letting on at first (but, of course, he did).
This film was as much about mental health and post-traumatic stress as it was about a good scare. Since Brahms was an inanimate doll (like Annabelle before him), much of the scares were reliant on the indicative musical score, with all those sudden sharp blasts which were meant to startle.
The scene which had me at the edge of my seat was that rough play Jude had with his bully cousin. Even if I already sort of knew what was going to happen, but I still could not bear to watch it play out.
While the creep factor was still there overall, this followed a more typical and predictable story line than the first.
This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."