Directed by Cuyle Carvin.
Starring Thomas Downey, Dee Wallace, Trinity Simpson, Bret Green, Elise Muller, Melinda DeKay, and Robert R. Ryel.
An alcoholic father and his daughter move into a house they have recently inherited and discover a set of dolls in the attic. The pair soon learn that the dolls have a sinister past.
Cuyle Carvin’s Dolls deals a slow and uninspiring horror flick that never truly shows its hand. In a genre brimming with creativity using horror-infused dolls – such as Child’s Play, Puppet Master, Dolls (1987), and Annabelle – Dolls (2019) failed to successfully hit the right notes for me to go back for a second viewing – but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy some aspects of the movie.
Dolls follows Robert (Thomas Downey), a struggling children’s book author who moves into his deceased mother’s house with his rebellious daughter, Sammy (Trinity Simpson), after separating with his wife, Lynn (Elise Muller) due to his severe drinking problem. Almost immediately, Robert and Sammy discover these three dolls who seemingly disappear and reappear around the house.
If you are expecting a non-stop thrill ride, then you are sure to be disappointment. The majority of the run time offers a domestic drama filled with meaningless and uninteresting arguments about their past with sprinkles of intrigue and mystery regarding the “killer dolls”. For the first hour, the film jumps to family spat to family spat – usually involving the estranged wife or the overprotective father not liking an older boy interacting with his daughter. However, when the horror does begin, besides the typical cheap and overused jump scares, these scenes were better handled than most of the dramatics of the first two acts even if the horror was lacking. But after trudging through an hour of exposition, I thought to myself, is this effective finale worth it? Honestly, I don’t think so.
For the lack of scares, there is also a lack of clarity about the nature of the dolls that is clearly designed to leave the film up to your own interpretation. After all, the film has an obsession with reminding us that Robert has a drinking problem and Sammy is currently off her medication… I’m sure you can guess what occurs. The story feels lacking of any gripping material as you can already predict the film beat for beat. At the end of the movie, I wondered if this decision was deliberate to improve the watchability, but after one viewing, I felt no incentive to go back and watch the film again.
As for the cast, the majority of the actors were the major highlight and gave their best despite clear problems with the script. They successfully brought their characters to life inside this very far-fetched storyline – except for one character in particular. Muller’s depiction of Lynn is simply unbearable and features over-exaggerated personality traits. Lynn is such a bitch and controlling of everyone else around her that it’s no wonder the entire family struggle to get along.
Dolls offers a slow and uninspiring horror movie that tends to focus more on family dramas than the terror the dolls ensue on the father and daughter. Although, the cast gave it their all, the problematic script and lack of anything meaningful occurring, makes this film a hard watch for the first hour. Depending on your own personal reception of the finale could be the saving grace for this movie.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film ★ ★ / Movie ★ ★