The Devil's Dolls Blu-ray Review
Written by Robert Gold
Blu-ray released by Scream Factory
Directed by Padraig Reynolds
Written by Danny Kolker, Christopher Wiehl
2016, 85 minutes, Not Rated
Blu-ray released on December 6th, 2016
Christopher Wiehl as Matt
Kym Jackson as Darcy
Tina Lifford as Della
Samantha Smith as Amy
Yohance Myles as Ethan
Kennedy Brice as Chloe
A notorious serial killer prepares to make his next sacrifice by performing some sort of ritual with a collection of homemade dolls. While his attention is on his prayers, the intended victim slips free of her restraints and manages to escape and flag down a passing police cruiser. Following a bloody showdown with the cops, the maniac is dead and the detectives on the scene are relieved to have this case closed. Matt is the lead investigator and comes with a lot of baggage; his marriage is over, he rarely spends time with his daughter Chloe, and as it turns out he really isn’t that good of a cop either. For some unknown reason, Matt gives his daughter the dolls from the crime scene, even though they are EVIDENCE. It turns out that these figures are Guatemalan “Worry Dolls”, used to contain your darkest fears. Young Chloe sells some of them at her mother’s craft fair and soon a string of copycat murders are plaguing Matt and his partner Darcy.
The Devil’s Dolls (aka Worry Dolls) mixes supernatural elements with the traditional police procedural, but the end result is frustrating and disappointing. This mix of material has been tackled before by better storytellers in films like Fallen, Child’s Play or even Black Devil Doll from Hell, but first time screenwriters Danny Kolker and Christopher Wiehl (who also stars) easily fall victim to the pitfalls of cliché, giant plot holes and tedious dialogue. As soon as we know this story involves voodoo, it is only a matter of time before we are introduced to the wise old African American who educates our heroes on the dangers of the spirit world. As it turns out, anyone that touches these dolls takes on the demonic appearance of – I don’t know what – and attacks whoever is closest. Matt spends a lot of time showing up late and shooting victims instead of learning from past mistakes. The film resembles an extended and graphic episode of Friday the 13th – The Series as we track down the cursed items, but buckles under the relatively lean 85-minute running time.
Director Padraig Reynolds (Rites of Spring) wisely aligns himself with cinematographer Adam Sampson (Scream Queens) to deliver a frequently beautiful and engaging picture. It is a shame the script betrays their efforts and squanders an interesting premise. Characters are frequently introduced only to be killed off, while the primary cast is never given much to do except react to what the cops are doing. The highlight of The Devil’s Dolls occurs within the first five minutes and sadly the rest of the film never recovers that momentum again. Genre fans will recognize various homages to classic horror films including The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and The Burning, but these shots are only half-hearted lifts from better films and may slip past undetected. I kept hoping there would be some big surprise twist at the end where the dolls all come to life and run around like little creatures, but sadly this wish was not to be. If you approach this movie with either low or zero expectations, you might enjoy it. Otherwise, I recommend checking out any of the other films mentioned in this review instead.
Video and Audio:
The Devil’s Dolls is presented in the original 2.35:1 aspect ratio and looks every bit as good as a contemporary film should. Colors are strong and black levels are solid with plenty of small object detail.
Audio options include both a DTS-HD MA 5.1 and 2.0 mix, and while I did not receive a whole lot of rumble from my speakers, both are quite pleasing.
Optional English and Spanish subtitles are included for anyone in need.
Director Padraig Reynolds and co-writer/star Christopher Wiehl deliver an informative but not especially memorable audio commentary filled with tales from the production.
Three sequences are presented in storyboard form; – “The Woods”, “Buddy”, and “Where’s Chloe?” – with each one presented as a slide show running approximately two minutes each.
Worry Dolls is a brief (1 minute) look at the design for the titular talismans.
A theatrical trailer is also included, but it does contain spoilers.
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