Dolls is not a remake of Stuart Gordon’s 1987 film. Although given Charles Band’s quest to reboot or sequelize everything he’s ever been involved with it’s an understandable thought. Instead, it’s about as different a film as possible.
Robert Holbrook (Thomas Downey, Bethany, Beast Mode) has a major drinking problem. That plus a bad divorce has him crashing at his dead mother’s unoccupied house. Almost immediately, (he hasn’t even finished his first drink), he starts finding weird dolls. Dolls that seem to be able to get out of the attic and all over the house on their own. His daughter Sammy (Trinity Simpson) has her own issues and is currently off her meds. Her mother Lynn (Elise Muller, Mayday, Raging Sharks) is such a bitch it’s no wonder Robert became a drunk.
Sammy moves in with her dad and we get almost an hour of domestic drama, mostly arguing. This is punctuated by the dolls occasionally making an appearance or disappearance. Not that we see them do much except stand around. Dee Wallace (Ayla, The Howling) turns up as Margaret, a neighbor who’s sure the dolls are possessed.
Sadly none of this is particularly scary. The script tries to create uncertainty as to whether the dolls can move or one of the unstable leads is doing it. But the dolls tend to move when only one person is in the house. So its fairly obvious what’s going on. Dolls script, by Josh and Justin Hawkins from an idea by prolific producer Jeff Miller, (The Toybox, The Russian Bride, Pet Graveyard) takes forever to get going.
The effects when we finally do see the dolls move are limited but effective. They’re even smart enough to set traps, which leads to a well-done set piece. If Dolls had gotten to this point sooner it would have been a much better film. Director Cuyle Carvin handles these scenes a lot better than the first hour’s dramatics.
If you can deal with the slow and rather boring first hour, Dolls does have a good payoff. Whether you’re willing to wait for it is the question.
Dolls will be released via Uncork’d Entertainment on DVD and VOD in the U.S. on July 2.
The original version of this review appeared on HORRORPEDIA.