The Devil’s Dolls (2016)
★ / ★★★★
Here is yet another horror film in which its story contains a detective, the lead protagonist played by Christopher Wiehl, but not much investigating happens. Instead, information are simply provided at certain times because the plot is required to move forward. What results is a highly confused work that fails to involve the viewer in any way; bottom-of-the-barrel filmmaking that deserves every bit of excoriation for adamantly wasting our energy and time. Stay far, far away from this movie.
The work is directed by Padraig Reynolds and it appears as though he does not understand the ins and outs of what makes an effective horror picture. Take notice of how scenes are executed, as an example. When one scene ends and the next one is about to start, look closely at how the performers stand around for a split-second and then begin to say their lines. It creates an awkward and disjointed feeling, as if we were watching a soap opera. The most effective horror movies are able to create an unrelenting atmosphere; fear creeps up our spines exactly because we believe fully into the reality of what we are seeing.
Although a horror movie, it can be argued that the material is tonally flat. While events do occur, such as people who come in physical contact with these dolls being forced to do horrible things, these happenings are not scary but simply violent. Although I was amused by its willingness to employ gore, there is more to the genre than bloodletting. Notice that when a person loses control of his or her body, there is violence about ten seconds later. This formula is executed like clockwork and so no suspense is created. Horror aficionados are certain to sit passively, severely unimpressed.
The film’s look is pedestrian to the point where it encourages one to think of how even a number of terrible works within the genre still tend to strive to look, feel, or sound a certain way. Although set, I think, somewhere in the south, possibly near New Orleans, hues of blues and similarly cold colors usually dominate. Regardless of whether a scene is taking place indoors or outdoors, the overall feeling is the same. It doesn’t matter whether a scene takes place in a house and the scene right after unfolds in a hospital—its sense of style is dead cold. The story might as well have taken place in the suburbs of Los Angeles and it wouldn’t have made a difference.
“Worry Dolls,” also known as “The Devil’s Dolls,” is lazy filmmaking. The writers, Danny Kolker and Christopher Wiehl, have failed to generate even a remote interest in the dolls. These dolls are supposed to be steeped in culture, history, and black magic. It is their responsibility to have done the required research so that the story they choose to tell are filled with details so macabre, it is impossible to look away or to think of heading to the restroom as the story unfolds. Horror movies that lack a sense of urgency are the worst.