Warning: This post contains spoilers for The Boy and Brahms: The Boy II.
The titular character in Brahms: The Boy II is an eerily lifelike porcelain doll with dark brown hair, bright green eyes, and — for some inexplicable reason — the fashion sense of a college literature professor. Brahms and his tiny suits may be the reason people show up to the cinema, but it’s Katie Holmes who is this horror sequel’s real star. On the heels of comedic roles in Steven Soderbergh’s Logan Lucky and Michael Caine movie Dear Dictator — as well as her work as the star, producer, and director of 2016 drama All We Had — Holmes portrays a mother named Liza whose son Jude (Christopher Convery) is in peril following his discovery of Brahms, a doll whose evil is so great, it fuels a horror franchise.
Holmes isn’t a total newcomer to horror films. She previously starred in 2010’s Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, co-written by Guillermo del Toro, where she played a reluctant stepmother who ultimately becomes a heroic figure. There is a prominent overlapping theme in both Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark and Brahms: How far will we go to protect children?
“I felt like it was very relatable for mothers, the fear of your child being taken over,” Holmes, who is mother to 13-year-old Suri with former husband Tom Cruise, explains to Refinery29 on a recent phone call. “Mothers are very vulnerable when it comes to the threat of their children’s safety. It makes for a very good person to scare. It’s someone who has a lot at stake. It makes the terror even greater because it’s not just one person, it’s this person’s child as well.”
Holmes describes Brahms: The Boy II as a “genre film...with depth,” and says she related to Liza because she “goes through this traumatic incident at the beginning of the film, only to become more vulnerable [later on.]” At the beginning of the movie, Liza is attacked by home invaders; Jude is so disturbed by the ordeal that he stops speaking completely. It’s this incident that encourages the family to get a fresh start, which, unfortunately for them, brings them to the manor where the horrors of the first movie took place.
Your mileage may vary on just how deep Brahms: The Boy II is. Unlike the original 2016 film, which teases supernatural elements before pulling a satisfying twist, what you see is what you get with Brahms — and what you get is a story of a doll capable of possessing the vulnerable. Brahms is still creepy as hell, though, as is his remote English countryside home, which, in actuality, is on the stunning Victoria Islands of British Columbia.
“At night, sometimes, I would be like ‘Oh my gosh, I think I just heard a weird noise.’ I’m sure it was because I was on set all day, creating [this scary movie.] Each of us would get freaked out and come in the next day and be like, ‘I swear, I woke up in the middle of the night, I heard something,’” Holmes says. “Your head is in that world, you’re always thinking about [scary things,] and suddenly you hear a gust of wind and are like, ‘Oh no. Somebody is outside.’”
After her experience with Brahms, Holmes — who says she still counts her first film The Ice Storm as one of her favourite career experiences, as it’s an example of the “ensemble, character-driven pieces” she adores — is interested in working on more future horror films. (She admits she has to “monitor” what films she watches, lest she’s left alone in her house, dealing with the paranoid aftermath of watching a horror movie — a relatable fear.)
“I think there’s so much creativity happening within this space,” she says. “I would love to do more. I loved Get Out, and I was terrified.”
Whether Holmes’ battle with Brahms will leave you sleeping with the lights on depends on how well you handle the dead eyes of creepy porcelain dolls.
Check out the trailer for Brahms: The Boy II below.