The Devil’s Dolls (2016)

tdd9Sadly, here’s another example of a movie that shoots its load in the first five minutes and fails to follow up on its potential. I should be used to it, really, coming from the generation that was there at the birth of the video age, where little Mom and Pop stores offered shelves of movies with lurid covers, only for them to prove themselves as exciting as afternoon tea with my Aunt Doreen and her, uh, “friend” Uncle Susan.

That stuff'll kill ya, lady...

That stuff’ll kill ya, lady…

The movie is very slight, so my review will match. It opens with a shot of a dirt- and blood-covered woman in her underwear, gagged and tied up and with a generic mystic sigil carved into her forehead, while nearby, a generic bad guy (Matty Ferraro), whom we later learn is called Henry, is whispering to some dolls (Guatemalan worry dolls, to be precise). The woman, Amber (Ashlyn Ross), frees herself and tries to escape the generic abandoned building where she was being kept, Henry completes whispering to his dolls and puts them all in a generic wooden box, before going in pursuit of his captive, brandishing a massive phallic power drill.

Told ya!

Told ya!

Amber makes it outside and into a police car, where the lone cop doesn’t drive her off or get his gun out despite the obvious danger, but just sits there beside her, reassuring her that everything was going to be okay, sitting there just enough for Henry to literally stride up and drill into the guy’s head, producing copious amounts of blood. Amber escapes again, but this time runs into another detective, Matt (Christopher Wiehl), who fatally shoots him.

I have a feeling they gave Matt a vest with POLICE on it for his benefit rather than anyone else's...

I have a feeling they gave Matt a vest with POLICE on it for his benefit rather than anyone else’s…

After a decent credits sequence of aerial shots over derelict Southern towns, bayous and amusement parks (it was shot in Mississippi), the movie takes a quick plummet down the Crap Hole (which was also the name of the club where my first band used to gig, funnily enough). Matt’s obsession with catching Henry over the years ruined his marriage and pushed her to another man, while he gets sporadic visits with his daughter Chloe (Kennedy Brice). 

From the Blair Witch Accessories Collection!

From the Blair Witch Accessories Collection!

Looking through the abandoned building where he’d killed Henry, he finds the box of worry dolls and and sticks it in a cardboard box in the back of his police car, and leaves it there for the rest of the movie. You know, the box of evidence that actual cops have to legally check in and catalogue. For that matter, Matt shot and killed a suspect, and he’s still running around on active duty with a gun. Because, you know, Hollywood.

WHY IS NO ONE SAYING ANYTHING ABOUT THAT THAT CREEPY DOLL ON THE RIGHT?

WHY IS NO ONE SAYING ANYTHING ABOUT THAT THAT CREEPY DOLL ON THE RIGHT?

And hey, when Chloe gets in the back of his car, she finds the box of worry dolls and takes it, thinking that they’re material for her budding craft business, because she has a little table of her own in her mother’s craft shop. Chloe is epileptic, which means that when she puts one of the worry dolls on a string and wears it as a bracelet, any weirdness she exudes can be attributed to her illness. Except, of course, I don’t ever recall one of the symptoms of epilepsy being turning oatmeal grey and having eyes glazed over zombie style, not to mention butchering the mother’s boyfriend’s dog.

He's got red on him (that joke never gets old)

He’s got red on him (that joke never gets old)

Anyway, the kids sells some of the dolls to people, and almost immediately after putting on the dolls, they get all oatmealed and glassy-eyed and murderous, too, one of them drawing the same sigil that Henry liked. Honestly, the transformations have all the subtlety of a GWAR concert. Oh, and there’s a woman named Della (Tina Lifford) running around around, warning the cops that they should give her the worry dolls, that there’s voodoo afoot and all that s**t.

So it’s obvious that Henry had read the Harry Potter books, so he split his soul into horcruxes and spread them into his worry dolls, with little Chloe being the centrepiece, being so innocent and all, and that Matt and his generic blonde partner have to find the other dolls and get them back to Della to do some voodoo bullshit with them – or will she? (Actually, I don’t mind spoiling it and saying that she won’t, there’s a twist but fucked if I could work out exactly what she trying to do).

"I'd like large double pepperoni with extra cheese. And the police, please."

“I’d like large double pepperoni with extra cheese. And the police, please.”

I’ll say this for it, DEVIL’S DOLLS looks good, it’s shot competently, and there’s lots of blood. But it flails in not keeping up with the promise of its premise. It’s a story where the movie would have ended in twenty minutes if the characters behaved in a natural, non-contrived way, and if people followed standard procedures. Now, I can forgive one or maybe two conveniences like that, but this movie strings them out like Ben-Wa balls. Oh, did I mention that the star, Christopher Wiehl, also wrote the script with the director?

Oh, and it would have helped if the the four female adult actresses (except for Della) weren’t all skinny white blonde women whom I couldn’t tell apart. Yeah, yeah, I know, all white women look alike. Mix it up next time, Casting Directors.

Deggsy’s Summary:
Director: Padraig Reynolds
Plot: 2 out of 5 stars
Gore: 3 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains
Reviewed by Deggsy. His dolls are inflatable.

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