Friday, December 14, 2007


I like Stuart Gordon quite a bit, but he does tend to be a very uneven director. Case in point, fresh off of making the two best movies of his entire career in Re-Animator and From Beyond, he breaks his hot streak with this, a pretty big misfire that still comes so close to being good that it actually becomes infuriating that it’s not.

The key flaw in this film is revealed right in its title. After giving us gore-drenched films involving zombies and otherworldly demons, a movie where the monsters are animated dolls is a pretty damn major letdown. I don’t care how many horror movies get made with them, they aren’t scary. They’re DOLLS. Fucking DOLLS. There could be a hundred of them charging at you armed with guns and knives and you’re still going to think they’re just the most adorable little things ever. The only instance I can think of where an evil doll actually worked at all was in Child’s Play, and that was because it was played for laughs as much as for shocks, which isn’t really the case here. Okay, Dead Silence worked too, but those were not normal dolls in that by any means. Not like the normal, everyday walking killer dolls you’ve got here, no sirree.

All that said, the film does generally work fairly well outside of the main premise being critically flawed. The acting is good, aside from the laughably stereotypical gang members that supply the real villains of the film (the dolls are actually working for the elderly owners of this house, see, and they evidently have frequent houseguests that they like to test to see if they can still get in touch with their inner children, and…yeah, well, anyway). Gordon’s directing has a good deal of visual flair to it, which is the film’s main strength. The house nails that feeling of quaint, folksy creepiness that old people’s cluttered homes tend to have. The dolls themselves add to this, at least at first, when you just catch a flash of motion out of the corner of your eye, so little that you’re not quite sure what you saw. Of course, that ends when they just start casually moving about the whole house like it ain’t no thang, but I’ll work with the film on this.

Of course, all that can’t really save a film whose premise is so off, but it makes the movie watchable enough, and sometimes, that’s all you can really hope for. If you’re a Stuart Gordon completist like myself, or if you’re just one of those strange people that finds toys to be terrifying and who probably still wets the bed at the age of 30, then by all means, check this movie out. Everyone else should give this one a pass.

Rating: **

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