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Read this before you see Brahms: The Boy II

While by no means a massive critical or commercial success, The Boy was still one of the strangest and most enigmatic mainstream horror films of 2016. The film's insane third act twist certainly divided audiences, and the old-school, throwback horror that it delivered arguably felt tame by some modern standards, but those who loved it seriously loved it. And they continue to. 

In 2016, the film's director, William Brent Bell, suggested that a sequel was "certainly possible" if it seemed as though "the audience wants to see another movie." Having hauled in a global box office of $64 million on a budget of $10 million, it certainly seemed like moviegoers wanted more Brahms, more Heelshire Home, and more of that crazy porcelain doll. Fortunately, fans can expert some deliciously dark doll vibes with the sequel, Brahms: The Boy II. However, if you missed out on the first movie, need a refresher on the original film, or want a primer for part two, then we've got you covered. This is everything you need to know about Brahms: The Boy II before it finally smashes out of the walls.

Fair warning: There are massive spoilers for The Boy ahead! 

The Boy ended on a crazy cliffhanger

Before we discuss the sequel, let's recap the original film. In The Boy, an American nanny named Greta (Lauren Cohan of The Walking Dead) is hired by an eccentric rich family, the Heelshires, for a very unconventional job. They want her to care for a porcelain doll named Brahms. It's a career move that any sane person would naturally run a mile from, but okay. On top of handing Greta a very specific set of rules by which to care for the doll (including talking to "him" in a loud voice and freezing his food if he doesn't eat it), it also turns out that the real Brahms was the son of the Heelshires, and he was killed in a house fire 20 years ago on his eighth birthday after one of his young friends was found in the forest with her skull crushed. Suspicious, right?

Naturally, Greta ignores the rules and only starts to take them seriously when the doll begins to take on a life of its own. Brahms seemingly moves on his own, and a child's voice and sobs can be heard across the mansion. Skip to the end, and Greta discovers that, lo and behold, the real Brahms has been alive and well, and he's now a grown man who's been living in the walls of the house. A tussle ensues, and Greta eventually stabs him with a screwdriver and flees the estate. But as we discover later, Brahms has survived. And he's busy repairing his shattered doll. Enter Brahms: The Boy II.

New characters, same old creepy doll

Greta might've escaped, but it seems that the Heelshire house might still be housing Brahms, and that he and his doll are still very much out to torment whoever occupies the mansion next. As we know from the first film, Brahms is still alive, and both he and his doll won't let tiny things like flesh wounds or broken porcelain stop them. 

In Brahms: The Boy II, a young family will be moving into the Heelshire Mansion with no knowledge of the dark history of the place (though, fyi, people should probably do a Google deep dive on creepy old mansions before they enthusiastically move themselves into them). As the plot synopsis outlines, the young son of the family will find and befriend the spooky porcelain doll. Considering that the first film showed the Heelshires harboring plans to turn Greta into a mate for the real Brahms (complete with making a porcelain doll based on her image), this spells some pretty terrible things for this particular young boy who will be unaware of the malevolent force he may be inviting into his life. 

The original director and screenwriter are returning

Horror filmmaker William Brent Bell and screenwriter Stacey Menear are back for the sequel, which is great news for fans of the first film who would likely want for this sequel to retain all the same vibes they loved about The Boy. Though both remained tight-lipped about Brahms: The Boy II during production, it's definitely interesting that Bell and Menear have spoken about how they ended the first film to purposefully set up the groundwork for a sequel. 

While Bell hinted to Daily Dead that "the sequel will be a complex little story to deliver on what the first movie delivered" back in 2016, Menear told Cosmopolitan that he was already toying with an idea. The screenwriter revealed that because the first film "was based on a twist," now "there's a lot of other interesting stuff" that he feels more open to "focus on" since the audience already knows the twist going into the sequel. All in all, it gives the impression that both of them are more confident and eager to build upon the creepy world they introduced in the first movie. And it sounds like they have a lot of intriguing ideas about what Brahms will be up to next.

Katie Holmes is leading the film

Former Dawson's Creek cast member Katie Holmes is playing Liza, a mother who moves into the mansion with her husband and young son. As a real-life mother to a young daughter, Holmes didn't have to dig too deeply into the role of a terrified mom who watches her son be drawn in by sinister forces. In June 2019, Holmes told Entertainment Weekly, "I felt like this was a story about a mother and her child and this evil presence that's influencing her child, and how that's a universal fear for every parent."

But there's also another universal fear that Holmes apparently discovered during the making of the film: dolls. They'll get you every time. In an interview with Access Hollywood, Holmes stated that working on the movie was "very creepy" and especially so when she was "working one-on-one with the doll." Stating that she "loved dolls growing up," the actor revealed that the experience of having to act opposite such a malevolent little monster as doll-Brahms made her feel like the experience was "really ruining dolls" for her. Fingers crossed that Brahms: The Boy II also wonderfully ruins dolls for the rest of us, too. 

That doll is up to no good

First-look pictures from Brahms: The Boy II revealed some fairly sinister happenings taking place in the Heelshire house against the poor new family who've moved in there. In February 2019, a picture was released showing the porcelain doll buried in dirt, with what looks like the young son of the family covering the doll's mouth with his hand. It's interesting to note from the sleeves of the young boy's suit that he appears to be wearing a very similar outfit to that of the eerie doll. The caption released with the image unnervingly states, "He's made a friend."

Meanwhile, two images released a few months later focused on Holmes' character, Liza, the very concerned matriarch of the new family occupying Brahms' dark playground. In one photo, Liza is staring suspiciously at the porcelain doll while holding a TV remote in her hand. Is Brahms attempting to control the family TV from behind the walls? In another, Liza is holding a flashlight in the face of the porcelain doll while looking concerned about something beyond the frame. If he's up to his old tricks, then you can bet that Brahms is still projecting the same troubling noises throughout the house, which is plenty of cause for concern for any family in a new home

Brahms' new friend

Rising star Christopher Convery (who you might remember as depicting a young Billy from Stranger Things in those season three flashbacks) is playing Jude, the son of the family who becomes Brahms' new buddy. In an exclusive image shared by USA Today, Jude can be seen sitting on the couch next to the doll, both of them dressed in identical grey suits. It's difficult to imagine Jude's parents joyfully getting a local tailor to fashion a tiny suit for the kid so that he can match his new favorite doll, so instead, it could be possible that Brahms has left an old childhood suit out for Jude to wear. 

Considering the history of Brahms — who had his childhood taken away from him when his parents forced him to live in the walls of the Heelshire Mansion — it's easy to theorize that Jude could be getting used as a vehicle for Brahms to reclaim the childhood he lost. Or if the Heelshires are somehow still lurking about, it possible that they simply want the young boy to replace the son they hid behind the walls over 20 years ago. Either way, Brahms definitely has a new BFF, so good for him. 

Brahms: The Boy II has a stellar supporting cast

Rounding out the primary cast are Ralph Ineson as Joseph and Owain Yeoman as Liza's husband, Sean. While Yeoman is known best for his roles in films like The Belko Experiment and shows like Emergence and The Mentalist, Ineson will be hugely familiar to genre fans for playing grizzled, hard-worn characters in things like Game of Thrones and Ready Player One. Plus, there's his memorable performance in Robert Eggers' practically flawless movie The Witch

Brahms: The Boy II is an intriguing next step for both of the UK actors who've seen their careers continue to rise and develop over the past few years. While Welsh-native Yeoman appears to be making more of the transition from TV work to cinema, the Yorkshire-born Ineson has been taking massive strides into the mainstream of late, becoming a versatile and beloved genre staple of the small and big screen and in projects of both colossal and tiny budgets.

Brahms: The Boy II has an all-new composer

Bear McCreary provided a startling, eerie classical piano score for the original movie, giving The Boy a distinctly vintage, haunting feel. For the sequel, however, a new composer is stepping up for the job in the form of Brett Detar (formerly of rock band the Juliana Theory). The musician has previously collaborated with William Brent Bell by composing the nerve-grating score for the director's 2012 possession flick, The Devil Inside. While he's certainly proved himself to be up to the task of serving up some atmospheric music to score Brahms: The Boy II, it's definitely interesting that Bell has opted to go for a new composer rather than re-use the music and theme of the first film. As a solo artist, Detar's music is primarily folk influenced, which could impact on the final feel of his score. It could also indicate that Brahms: The Boy II could have a slightly different vibe and atmosphere than the first film.

The film has been repeatedly delayed

First, Brahms: The Boy II was all set for a blockbuster summer release, with a release date tentatively set for July 2019. Then the film was pushed to a December release, until it was pushed for a third time to February 2020. No official reason has been given as to why these delays were necessary by anybody involved with the film. However, several publications have speculated that Brahms: The Boy II was removed from the summer release slate to avoid being compared to other spooky doll films like Child's Play and Annabelle Comes Home, which would've been released around the same time. 

As the International Business Times suggested, the film's original release date could have also given Brahms: The Boy II "lingering competition" from horror movies such as Crawl, 47 Meters Down: Uncaged, and Ready or Not. Now scheduled for February 21st, 2020, the film's new release slot will instead pitch Brahms: The Boy II up against Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of Harley Quinn), Sonic the Hedgehog, and the Vin Diesel vehicle Bloodshot, giving it more of an opportunity to grab those horror fan dollars upon release.