[Screen It]


(2020) (Katie Holmes, Christopher Convery) (PG-13)

Read Our Full Content Movie Review for Parents

Horror: A family must contend with their son finding a doll that begins to show signs of supernatural behavior.

Liza (KATIE HOLMES) and Sean (OWAIN YEOMAN) are a regular married couple living in London with their young son, Jude (CHRISTOPHER CONVERY). That all changes when a home invasion turns violent, leaving Liza knocked out and Jude shell-shocked and now mute by what he saw. Five months later, he still isn't speaking, so Sean proposes they take time off and go stay in a remote country house in hopes of a fresh start.

While exploring the grounds, they find the now empty manor to which the guest house they're staying in belongs, while Jude discovers an old porcelain doll in the woods, only to be startled by the German Shepherd belonging to Joseph (RALPH INESON) who states he's the groundskeeper for the place.

Back at their house, Jude instantly bonds with the doll who he states is named Brahms, with Liza and Sean hoping it might help their son work through his issues. Instead, the doll starts influencing Jude's behavior, with Liza at times unsure of what she thinks she's experiencing is real or just one of her PTSD-based nightmares. But as the situation increasingly turns supernatural, Liza tries to figure out what's happening and how to protect their son from falling too far under the doll's dangerous spell.

OUR TAKE: 3.5 out of 10

Our reviewing policy for films that aren't shown in advance to critics is that we'll only provide a paragraph or two about the film's artistic merits or, more accurately, lack thereof. After all, life is too short to spend any more effort than that on a movie that even the releasing studio knows isn't any good (which is why they hid it from reviewers before its release).

Okay, let's admit it -- most dolls are inherently creepy despite many a kid's fondness for them. Maybe it's because we adults have seen too many films that feature them in less than flattering (and sometimes dangerous) light, but they're fairly common figures in horror films.

That continues in "Brahms: The Boy II" a standalone spin-off from 2016's similarly lackluster "The Boy." There are a few decent startles here and there, but they exist in a story we've seen too many times before, albeit with some wasted potential in terms of how the filmmakers could have better toyed with viewers. Unlike the famous composer it's named for, the flick's orchestration simply doesn't work well enough to have anyone singing its praises. It rates as a 3.5 out of 10.

Reviewed February 20, 2020 / Posted February 21, 2020

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