‘Her soul lives on…’
Curse of the Witch’s Doll is a 2017 British supernatural horror film written and directed by Lawrence Fowler (The Jack in the Box). The Up A Notch Productions film stars Helen Crevel, Neil Hobbs and Philip Ridout (Dogged).
Adeline Gray’s attempt to escape Blitz bombing leads her to a derelict, creepy manor in the woods.
When Adeline’s young daughter Chloe goes missing, a series of inexplicable events lead her to believe a haunted doll holds a vengeful soul; the soul of a murdered witch.
As Adeline’s desperate search for Chloe continues, it soon becomes clear; to have any hope of being reunited, she must defeat the curse of the witch’s doll…
Horror films are generally fantasies, by very definition, and whether science-fiction based or supernatural, they don’t have to play by any rules. That’s what makes them interesting and is often their prime appeal. Plus, horror movies are sometimes surrealistic, such as the works of past genre players Rollin and Fulci, even if any ‘beyond reality’ concept was perhaps not the filmmaker’s initial intention.
Yet, a cinematic narrative of any form requires some basis in fact before it can explore fantasy. Or at least a form of acceptable disbelief. By setting Curse of the Witch’s Doll in 1942, we’re required to invest in a Woman in Black 2-type scenario about evacuation to the countryside during the London blitz.
Alas, this being an ambitious low-budget production, the period atmosphere is sorely lacking. No-one ‘feels’ like they are from the 1940s. The vast manor house owned by a man named Arthur would seem to be the domain of the upper classes yet “Arthur” is clearly not from the posh echelons of English society. “Come back to reality, please!”, he says at one point. Quite.
It’s a shame the film’s central set-up lacks realism (this, despite Adeline saying: “this is my reality, Arthur”). Supernatural fear requires an investment in the characters’ predicament and Curse of the Witch’s Doll doesn’t provide this. Rote acting doesn’t help either.
Despite this, Curse of the Witch’s Doll is more enjoyable than some other recent British horror outings such as The Rizen, Dawning of the Dead and 12 Deaths of Christmas. It never drags and is an engaging time waster.
The silly-looking yet fun doll (it’s most certainly not scary) has a minor role but provides amusement in the vein of Trilogy of Terror (1975) and – with its bugged-out eyes – Ooga Booga (2013). Overall, the film doesn’t quite work yet it’s worth a visit for the curious.
Adrian J Smith, MOVIES & MANIA
“There is an odd mix of stories in this that are all linked by the doll and the manor house which I believe to be a rather confused effort to try and jazz up the usual haunted doll rhetoric. Unfortunately this did not really help and only succeeded in making it more clichéd, with awkward dialogue (“Ready or not, I’m going to get you”), endless whispering and a ton of jump scares.” Sarah Budd, Horrorscreams Videovault
- Helen Crevel … Adeline Gray
- Neil Hobbs … Detective Nolan
- Philip Ridout … Arthur Harper
- Claire Carreno … The Witch
- Layla Watts … Chloe Gray
- Michelle Archer … Doris
- William Frazer … PC Jones
- Laura Janes … Emma
- Ethan Taylor … Sam
Northampton, Northamptonshire, England
The film was released in Vietnam on 12 January 2018.
In the US, High Octane Pictures released Curse of the Witch’s Doll in 2018 on VOD February 2nd, DVD March 6th and SVOD on June 5th.
The production title was The Witch’s Doll and the film was also briefly titled Conjuring the Witch’s Doll
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