Directed by William Brent Bell and written by Stacey Menear, the team behind The Boy. Liza (Katie Holmes), Sean (Owain Yeoman), and their son Jude (Christopher Convery) are a tight-knit family living in London. Their feeling of security is compromised one night when Liza is assaulted by two burglars. Jude, who witnessed it, starts suffering from selective mutism (which is for the best, really, because what’s up with him having an American accent?), and everyone decides it would be a swell idea to head out to the country for a while to regroup. Unfortunately, they choose the guest house adjacent to the mansion from the first movie, and before long Jude finds Brahms’s doll, which, unlike in the original, is now both sentient and evil. Brahms is pretty possessive of Jude, and he’s also keen on hurting anyone who stands in the way of their friendship.
It has a low rating on Rotten Tomatoes, it’s PG-13, and it’s a sequel. While those aren’t necessarily mighty strikes against a movie individually (The Ring is PG-13, for example), the combination of all three is more likely than not to be a shit-show. I settled down with a nightcap and prepared to be underwhelmed. It isn’t terrible, but it clings tightly to conventions for both the rating and the sub-genre. Ancillary characters like Jude’s asshole cousin pop up out of nowhere to shed some (but not too much!) blood. Characters slooooowly investigate strange noises, uttering “If you’re trying to scare me again, it’s not funny.” Things move by themselves, phantom voices whisper, the dog that growls at the unholy spirit is brutally murdered (NOT a spoiler, name me five horror movies in which the dog lives that aren’t Poltergeist). Folks come out of the woodwork to fall all over themselves explaining Brahms’s story, but there’s still the requisite internet search.
The family is not exactly unlikable, but it’s hard for me to take their issues coping with the break-in as seriously as they do. While being robbed is of course a brutal and violating experience, it could have been a lot worse. Despite Liza’s claim that “I nearly died”, all that happened was she was knocked unconscious. It bugs me that Jude whines that Liza can’t protect him, when actually she was putting up a damn good fight. She scratched one’s face and then went to town straight-up pummeling the other one; she only stopped when the first one hit her over the head.
Overall, I would have had a better time watching it with someone or someones to poke fun at it with me (or at least listen to me gripe that the doll calling itself Brahms doesn’t make any sense because the guy who had the doll last was named Brahms, and he was only the latest one in a long history of people the doll attached itself to), and that’s my recommendation: (spooky voice) Don’t watch it alone.