Brahms: The Boy II Set Visit

Brahms: The Boy II brings back the uncomfortably innocent-looking doll who wreaked havoc on the life of a nanny named Greta (Lauren Cohan) in The Boy in 2016. At least that’s what it seemed like until the third act of the film pulled the rug out from under audiences and revealed something much more twisted at play. And when it comes to the sequel arriving in theaters in February, it looks like Brahms may be tied to something even more sinister than the first movie revealed.

/Film visited the set of Brahms: The Boy II when production was underway in Victoria, British Colombia, the western Canadian province northwest of Washington. While on set, we learned how Brahms begins a new tale of horror with a new family who is is just trying to forget a traumatic event that has left them shaken to their core. And things are only going to get worse for them after they meet Brahms.

Before we get to The Boy II, let’s recall what happened in The Boy, released four years ago. A young American woman named Greta (Lauren Cohan) takes a job as a nanny for an 8-year old boy named Brahms in a small British village. However, she’s a little unnerved to find that Brahms is actually a life-size doll with a porcelain face. The boy’s parents treat the doll as if it’s human, coping with the death of their real son 20 years prior. The care of the doll comes with a list of strict rules, and when the nanny starts to defy them, she comes to learn that there’s more than meets the eye with this creepy little boy.

In the shocking climax of the movie, the real Brahms, now a grown man, is revealed to be living in the walls of the house, which are full of secret passages. Once he makes himself known, he creeps out of a trick mirror, wearing a horrifying porcelain mask that resembles the doll Greta has started to fear. After a terrifying struggle, Greta manages to escape, leaving a a wounded Brahms behind to fend for himself, carefully repairing the Brahms porcelain doll that had been shattered in the climax’s scuffle.

Brahms: The Boy II Set Visit

As the first trailer for The Boy II revealed, Brahms (the doll) is discovered by the young boy of a family staying in a cottage that happens to be near the Heelshire Mansion, where the events of the first movie takes place. He’s partially buried under some dirt and leaves, but after a quick clean-up, he’s good as new.

One of the big mysteries left unanswered during our set visit was exactly how Brahms came to be buried in the dirt on the grounds of the mansion. The grown-up Brahms painstakingly put the broken doll back together, even after being stabbed in the chest by a screwdriver at the end of the first film. Surely he wouldn’t let it end up buried in the dirt. Costume designer Aieisha Li provided a bit of a hint about why Brahms might have been buried as she mentions that “somebody found the doll and put him in a special burial outfit.” Perhaps part of the mystery lies in what happened to the house after the first movie.

In the trailer, there’s a quick succession of shots showing Liza doing research on the doll. In one of the webpages she stumbles upon, it says that this specific doll comes from the collection of Mrs. James Heelshire, which “unfortunately has been dispersed.” It goes on to mention that the doll’s history could go as far back as 1885, but may have been created sometime between 1894 and 1896. Does that mean this doll comes from Heelshires older than those who kept their son hidden in the walls of the mansion?

Regardless of the doll’s history, why on Earth would any parent let their kid keep such an unsettling doll?

Brahms: The Boy II Set Visit

Family Trauma

What’s not shown in the first trailer for The Boy II is why parents Liza and Sean (Katie Holmes and Owain Yeoman) and their son Jude (Christoper Convery) have come to this lake cottage in the first place. The trailer plays it up as if Jude is a troubled kid by default, trying to scare his mother and tearing apart his teddy bear. But a home invasion has left both Jude and his mother traumatized. She’s having nightmares about the incident, and he’s suddenly not speaking after being terrified in the moment. But the real trouble doesn’t begin until they decide to get away.

After whispers of Jude’s name lead him to discovering Brahms on the grounds of the Heelshire Mansion near their temporary home, he starts talking again, but more to Brahms than his actual parents. His treatment of the doll as a real person feels a little odd, especially with some very familiar rules spotted written down in the trailer. But since Jude is starting to come out of his shell after the trauma he experienced, they’re not so eager to do anything about it just yet. They’re riding this out in the hopes that Brahms is just a therapeutic

Brahms - The Boy II Set Visit

Raising the Stakes

Director William Brent Bell feels like the first movie fell short in putting characters in enough jeopardy. But with an entirely new character dynamic at play with the family and the mental health of their child, Bell said the first movie almost serves as a slow burn origin story to tee-up this movie. The director reflected:

“It’s cool that we got to make an origin story in a way, a movie that set everything up slowly instead of jumping right into the story. That’s not normal. It didn’t have a teaser at the beginning, it just starts that story slowly. It doesn’t have a flashback, and that’s unique. For me, there was a point that [Brahms] was doing things, leaving her a sandwich, he might have cut her hair, even though we didn’t have that moment [in the movie], he takes her clothes. They’re all cute little things, but they’re not necessarily deadly. We got to that point later in the story, but I wanted to make sure to in the second movie that we have stakes where he’s not just being cute and weird, he’s being deadly.”

This time, the mischief of Brahms is much more threatening, and it comes in the form of injury, possibly even death. The characters will very much be threatened this time, though the specific catalyst that makes it clear Brahms is a threat wasn’t given away to us.

It’s hard to get an idea of what kind of horror we’re dealing with from this set visit – so many secrets are being kept from us at this point in production.

Brahms: The Boy II Set Visit

What Happened to Brahms’ House?

With the exception of some shattered glass, damaged walls, and broken furniture, the Heelshire Mansion (actually historical Craigdarroch Castle in Victoria, BC) was left standing at the end of The Boy. But if Jude finds Brahms in the middle of the woods on the grounds of the house, then what has happened to the house itself?

Well, the house is boarded up and disheveled. It looks like some construction was being done at some point since we can see some scaffolding and whatnot outside the house in the trailer. There appears to have been a fire in the attic, where the grown up Brahms from the end of The Boy seems to have relocated since living in the walls of the mansion. We’re not sure how this fire came about, but the set, which was built inside an abandoned tire shop in Victoria, BC, looks totally scorched with blackened walls, soot-covered furniture and various torched artifacts lying around. Two beams have crashed through the ceiling around a desk. It’s in total disarray. Is anyone still living here?

Also tied to Heelshire Mansion, we heard about a caretaker in the form of a new character named Joseph played by Ralph Ineson of The Witch. But he may be more than just a caretaker since we were told that he was the owner of the house at one point, but somehow lost it. There’s probably more of the Brahms doll backstory tied to Joseph than we know, but that’s just speculation on our part.

But unlike the first movie, most of the terror doesn’t unfold at the mansion this. Instead, two-thirds of the movie unfolds at the lake cottage on the grounds of the mansion, and it’s the climax that brings us back to the mansion, specifically the basement of the house, where we haven’t been yet. On the set, a fog machine created an ominous setting, allowing for an eerie glow in the basement, created by light shining from the “outside” through the windows. The secret passageways within the house are also still intact, and it’s rather unsettling to walk through them.

Even though specifics of the scene we saw filmed were not provided to give us context, it’s here that Liza cautiously searches the house with a shotgun in hand, eventually finding Jude eerily humming as he stands near a big, old furnace, fully ignited with practical fire burning within, adding to the hazy glow in the basement. Jude holds Brahms and slowly turns before the director yelled cut. As for what happens next, well…it sounds like we’ll have to wait until next month.

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