Dolls – USA, 2019

‘When you look away they play’

Dolls is a 2019 American supernatural horror film directed by actor Cuyle Carvin, making his feature debut, from a screenplay by Justin Hawkins (Ouija House) and Josh Hawkins. The movie stars Thomas Downey, Dee Wallace, Trinity Simpson and Bret Green.

Co-producer Jeff Miller (Ouija House; The Toybox; ClownTown) also worked on the storyline. Other producers are Robert Michael Ryan, aforementioned Josh Hawkins and cinematographer Ben Demaree (director of Ouija House; Hansel vs. Gretel).

Review:

Dolls is not a remake of Stuart Gordon’s 1987 film of the same name. Although given Charles Band’s quest to reboot or sequelize everything he’s ever been involved with it’s an understandable thought. Instead it’s about as different a film as possible.

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Robert Holbrook (Thomas Downey) has a major drinking problem. That plus a bad divorce has him crashing at his dead mother’s unoccupied house. Almost immediately, (he hasn’t even finished his first drink), he starts finding weird dolls that seem to be able to get out of the attic and all over the house on their own.

His daughter Sammy (Trinity Simpson) has her own issues and is currently off her meds. Her mother Lynn (Elise Muller) is seemingly such a bitch it’s perhaps no wonder Robert became a drunk.

Sammy moves in with her dad and we get almost an hour of domestic drama, mostly arguing. This is punctuated by the dolls occasionally making an appearance or disappearance. Not that we see them do much except stand around. Genre icon Dee Wallace turns up as Margaret, a neighbour who is sure the dolls are possessed.

Sadly none of this is particularly scary.  The script tries to create uncertainty as to whether the dolls can move or one of the unstable leads is doing it. But the dolls tend to move when only one person is in the house. So it’s fairly obvious what’s going on.

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The script by Josh and Justin Hawkins from an idea by prolific producer Jeff Miller (Ouija House; The Toybox; ClownTown) takes forever to get going.

When we finally do see the dolls move, the effects are limited yet functional. They are even smart enough to set deadly traps. If the movie had reached this point sooner it would have been a much more balanced film. Director Cuyle Carvin handles these scenes a lot better than the first hour’s dramatics.

If you can deal with the slow and rather uninspiring first hour, Dolls does have a good payoff. Whether you’re willing to wait for it is the question.

Jim Morazzini, MOVIES & MANIA

Other reviews:

“I, like many I presume, was expecting a killer doll movie a la Child’s Play and Stuart Gordon’s Dolls; but on the other what I got was a film that never played it’s hand. It instead blurred the lines between what’s real and what’s in your mind, never really giving the audience a definitive answer – and that made Dolls all the more intriguing for me.” Phil Wheat, Nerdly

Release:

Dolls will be released on DVD and VOD in the USA by Uncork’d Entertainment on July 2, 2019.

Cast and characters:

  • Thomas Downey … Robert Holbrook – Mirror Image; Beast Mode; The Burning DeadAxe Giant: The Wrath of Paul BunyanSorority Party Massacre; Paranormal Incident; et al
  • Dee Wallace … Margaret
  • Trinity Simpson … Sammey Holbrook
  • Bret Green … James
  • Elise Muller … Lynn – Raging Sharks
  • Melinda DeKay … Edna
  • Robert R. Ryel … Henry

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