The Movie Waffler New Release Review (DVD/VOD) - DOLLS | The Movie Waffler

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New Release Review (DVD/VOD) - DOLLS

dolls 2019 movie review
An alcoholic children's author moves into his late mother's home, where he finds three creepy dolls.

Review by Sue Finn

Directed by: Cuyle Carvin

Starring: Thomas Downey, Dee Wallace, Trinity Simpson, Bret Green, Elise Muller

dolls 2019 movie poster

Alone in his house, a large snoring man is awoken by knocks at his door.

In his front lawn there is a box, which he opens and then runs from. 

The three dolls who had been delivered to him drive him into the bathroom where he apparently slits his wrist, though the amount of blood we see would barely be enough to require a hospital visit.

The title ‘Dolls’ appears onscreen, accompanied by one of the little monsters, his ventriloquist dummy mouth and one lazy eye making him striking at least, even if not particularly frightening.

dolls 2019 movie review

The story starts in earnest with the trials and tribulations of Robert (Thomas Downey), a famous children book author and long-term drunk, as he moves into his deceased mother’s home and sets about making it his own.

The doll shenanigans start almost as soon as he arrives, with one short natty-dressed doll whose eyes glow in the dark appearing at the bottom of the stairs.

Up in the attic he places it in the company of two other dolls, one of them the lazy eyed freak that we saw next to the title and the other a girly doll who’s seen better days.

Robert’s daughter Sammey (Trinity Simpson) shows up uninvited after fighting with her mother Lynne (Elise Muller). Sammey promptly moves in, dumps all of Robert’s alcohol and refuses to alert her mother as to where she is.

The next morning, Lynne storms in and advises she gives them two days to bond before she expects her daughter back; she informs her ex-husband that Sammey abruptly stopped taking her ‘medication’ and she’s worried about her mental health. Robert’s mother’s death is spoken in hushed tones – something shocking clearly happened to dear old mum.

Dee Wallace (praise!) shows up as Margaret, a friend of dear departed Edna (Robert’s mother). She is grateful to the deceased as she had apparently helped Margaret’s brother Henry with his DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder). At the mention of the attic dolls she runs from the house, particularly horrified at Sammey’s admission that they are using the dolls for a project (a children’s book Robert is writing and illustrating).

Sammey befriends James (Bret Green), who usually does Edna’s yard work (though he shows up armed only with secateurs).

Margaret returns to explain the plot - Henry was the large man from the pre-credits appetizer and Edna used the dolls to ‘treat’ him by mystically placing his alternate personalities into their plastic bodies.

Margaret begs Sammey to burn the dolls but she won’t do it, even though the story freaks her out; and while James and Sammey get closer, the dolls just get meaner. Before you know it, Robert and his daughter are fighting for their lives.

dolls 2019 movie review

Written by Justin and Josh Hawkins, and directed by actor Cuyle Carvin, this is a mixed bag of a movie.

When the horror starts it’s a little silly. The dolls are clunky and rarely creepy. When a death occurs the witness doesn’t think to call the police and when a father arrives to find a dead body he barely reacts even though he would have had to step over the body to get to the bathroom where his daughter sits cowering and blaming the dolls.

There is one effective set piece featuring a bath and an iron (and not in the way you think!).

There’s a wonderfully bad scene where a woman with a knife in her head comes stumbling out of the darkness to fall in Robert's arms, only for the clearly plastic knife to ‘twang’ in the air.

dolls 2019 movie review

And even though the rhyming children’s book telling the story of the attic dolls is read over and over ad nauseam, the line “If you get to see them move, that is when they’ll come for you” ended up making no sense as that’s not what actually happened in the film.

Some jump scares work but regrettably it really does fall down in the creep factor.

A nugget of a good idea, a talented cast of actors and an admittedly unexpected ending are unfortunately rushed and given a more lightweight treatment than they deserved.

This one is above the average, but only slightly.

Note - it seems that only indie horrors feature montages anymore as opposed to their popularity in all manner of '80s movies. When did they stop being a mainstream thing? Also, a theme song featuring the film's title? So '80s, so good!

Dolls is on DVD/VOD now.


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