You think only one doll can do damage to a house? Just wait until you meet this trio of sinister mannequins in Cuyle Carvin’s thriller.
Robert is a struggling children’s book author who is going through a very hard time. His soon-to-be ex wife is constantly nagging him about alimony and on top of that, his mother Edna has recently passed away. Even more worse, Robert is a struggling alcoholic. He decides to go to his mother’s house and spend time there to recuperate and battle his demons. However, he gets an unexpected visitor in his daughter Sammey, who needs a break from dealing with the pressures of her mother.
Since arriving in the house, Robert has went to the attic and sees three dolls that belonged to his mother. When Margaret, the next-door neighbor, arrives to see Edna to inform her of her brother’s death, she is stunned to learn that Edna had died. However, upon learning of the dolls, Margaret leaves out of fear. Meanwhile, Sammey has a crush on local groundskeeper James, who helped Edna. As both Robert and Sammey continue their time in the house, strange occurrences begin to happen with Sammey looking at a series of illustrations involving the dolls. When Sammey is convinced that the dolls may be responsible for what’s been happening, Margaret confirms the suspicions as she reveals a secret about the dolls. Can Sammey and Robert make their way away from the dolls or will it be too late?
Capitalizing on the success of The Conjuring universe and its spinoff, Annabelle, this indie film brings something a bit different in the form of three strange dolls who cause a sense of both killing and insanity in the mind of the house’s inhabitants. The duo of Justin and Josh Hawkins wrote this tale that meshes elements of classics like Child’s Play and Demonic Toys along with the aforementioned Annabelle with these dolls looking quite scaringly innocent but causes major trouble when needed as seen in the series of illustrations by our protagonist, in which a poem is recited to correspond with the drawings.
Thomas Downey and Trinity Simpson do quite well in their roles of estranged father and daughter Robert and Sammey. The former a struggling alcoholic and the latter one who suffers from anxiety, this seems like the last two you would expect to have to deal with something far more sinister. However, that’s what makes this better as a film as we see these two struggles not just with the dolls, but their own relationship as well. The great Dee Wallace is wonderful as Margaret, the next-door neighbor who holds the secret to the dolls as she has a connection with what has transpired. It may sound farfetched, but in a way, it makes sense as well.
What some may complain about is the pacing of the film. It may seem like to drag during the middle, but there are tense moments that show that it is perhaps the dolls having some sort of influence with the character of Robert. This is evident as we see Robert listening to the poem as he draws the dolls and having vivid flashbacks of his mother’s accidental death. In addition, the illustrations tend to show what’s in store for the potential victims, which a bit of madness to the story and even makes one question who is really responsible, at least for the drawings.
Dolls is a pretty tense thriller that may be unfairly compared to the Conjuring universe. However, it has its tropes but also has something fresh in terms of the story, ultimately making a mixed bag.
WFG RATING: C+
Uncork’d Entertainment presents a Millman Productions production. Director: Cuyle Carvin. Producers: Jeff Miller and Robert Michael Ryan. Writers: Justin Hawkins, Josh Hawkins, and Jeff Miller. Cinematography: Ben Demaree. Editing: Korey Rowe.
Cast: Thomas Downey, Trinity Simpson, Bret Green, Elise Muller, Dee Wallace, Melinda DeKay, Robert R. Ryel, Cuyle Carvin, Justin Hawkins.