By Casey Campbell
To be honest, Dolls is not the movie I intended to review today. It’s something I recently found out about, thanks in part to its director Stuart Gordon. Basically, I was planning on checking out Annihilation, the Natalie Portman starring/Alex Garland directed sci-fi movie from a couple years ago, but my scheduling leaves a lot to be desired and it expired from Amazon Prime. It’s on Hulu still so I may review it at a later date. Anywho! Dolls!
Dolls was silly. It was silly, blunt, and short, and didn’t have much to say other than maybe “have an imagination” and “don’t be a shitty person.” A douche father and his obnoxious rich girlfriend take young Judy out for a trip, but get sidetracked by a freak storm. Their car gets stuck in the mud, because of course it did, and they have to find shelter before something happens… I don’t know whether they think the car will flood or whatever, but going to a random house out in the middle of nowhere is their final decision.
The large estate, drenched in rain and lit by lightning, is owned by an elderly couple with a love of toys. The toys are everywhere. Or, maybe dolls is the apt term for the creepy little things littering the house, hence the title. Either way, little Judy takes a liking to them, while the adults are obviously happy to ignore them all. Before long, two hitchhikers with bizarre cockney accents and a hapless schlub that decided to pick them up arrive equally disheveled by the rain. His car also got stuck in the mud. So, eventually, we meet all of our small yet fleeting group of characters. And then they get to meet the eponymous dolls.
Stuart Gordon is a name horror fans will know. He did Re-Animator and From Beyond, dammit. He kicked ass so hard, and his recent death is a genuine loss to the horror community. His work with equally great Brian Yuzna deserves respect. But Dolls? Eh.
See, Dolls is disposable fun. Everything that happens, minus a single line delivered by the matriarch of the house in which she directly infers shes a witch, is seen coming from a distance. You know the shitty dad and the terrible girlfriend will get what’s coming to them, that the two hitchhikers that plan on ransacking the place will get killed, and that the child-at-heart driver and child herself will get out of the ordeal safely. It’s a movie of few surprises, but it still maintains a heart, which is nice to see. I really liked the outsider guy who picked up the hitchhikers. He has a sweet and simple backstory where his nurturing father unfortunately passed away when he was young, and he has since had very nice memories of his toys. It’s nothing substantial, but hey, it’s something to latch onto. And the girl, well, she just has an imagination.
Dolls is a movie that runs just barely feature length, and contains some decent stop-motion animation to bring the dolls to life, but otherwise it’s nothing amazing. It’s on Amazon Prime, and doesn’t take too long to watch. Hopefully it’s still on there during October, because this could be a fun Halloween watch.