Goon Review: The Devil’s Dolls (2016)

(Submitted by Mr. Andrew Peters…Thanks for the warning on this one, Ho-rror Ho-mie! 😉 xoxo)

I’ve talked about cliches before and that sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes it can make a film seem like it’s been photocopied from several other things that did the same thing, giving it a very stale taste. It can make a film so bland and uninspired that you barely notice the film and only see the things you’ve seen several dozen times before. That’s what The Devil’s Dolls is. Even though the core concept of the film is interesting, it’s the same film you’ve seen from major studios time and time again and considering this is an independent feature, I’m kinda surprised the film didn’t take any liberties and just played it safe.

Right from the very first moment, you get the feeling you’ve seen this all before. I mean, how many times have you seen a skinny white girl in a tank top tied up and tortured? Far too many. I actually let out an audible groan and rolled my eyes and the only reason I kept watching was because it’s my job. Then I thought, “Well, maybe it’ll get better. Maybe something different will happen,” but nope. Not really. The film then cuts to a serial killer named Henry as he mumbles to some worry dolls and places them inside a wooden box as his captive girl struggles to get free, just in time as he picks up a large gas powered drill and chases her. Aren’t these scenes usually at the end of the movie? It feels like we stepped into a generic modern slasher during the last fifteen minutes. She comes across a cop who of course doesn’t listen to her warnings about leaving immediately and continues on with what he’s saying. It’s like he’s having a conversation with himself and this trope is absolutely frustrating and the only reason this scene exists is to throw in the film’s only really gory moment as he gets drilled through the head. Just as Henry is about to drill this unnamed girl, he’s gunned down by hard boiled Detective Matt off screen that wasn’t there a moment ago and saves her. Already, I feel like I’ve sat through this entire movie. Without seeing the rest of the movie, I can tell you all about these characters.

 

Matt should be celebrating that he just gunned down the serial killer he’s been chasing for years, but he’s not. The job has cost him his marriage and he now drinks and sits in his office, staring at the wall looking lost. You know, typical cop movie stuff. Another thing he does is not really follow police procedures. Rather than have the crime scene investigators haul the wooden box of worry dolls into evidence, Matt just tosses that shit in the back seat of his car which his daughter Chloe ends up taking to her mother’s antique store. Chloe decides to make these worry dolls into her jewelry and wears one herself and instantly becomes pale skinned and seemingly sick. Conveniently for everyone else in the movie and the plot Chloe happens to suffer from epilepsy, so they just pass it off as that. Even after she stabs the family dog to death and winds up at the hospital when she becomes unresponsive, they blame it on her illness. I wasn’t aware that random acts of murder was a side effect of epilepsy.

A young adult whose girlfriend bought him one of Chloe’s worry doll necklaces also goes pale and randomly murders a gas station attendant. Matt is called to the scene, because this case bears a striking resemblance to the one he thought he just closed; a similar marking or drawing that Henry left behind during his crimes. During his investigation, Matt believes that the victim must have had contact with Henry, but his investigation leads him to an old voodoo woman who wants the box, but Henry must first find all the worry dolls and place them back inside the box before sundown. This timeframe is suddenly thrown on you, seeing as how one or two nights have already passed, but the story desperately feels the need to make this seem urgent.

I think I may have just narrowed down the plot a little too much, which has even surprised me, but the more I think about it, there isn’t anything much else to say about the film. I mean, think of most horror movie and cop movie cliches and there ya go. That’s this movie. As the film draws near the end and they are trying hard to making it seem more tense than it actually is, the twists and suspenseful moments that it throws at you can be seen coming a mile away, so it’s very uneffective. I feel like I’m going in circles here, struggling to find something to talk about, but it’s such an unmemorable film that nothing stuck with me… and I just watched it last night and even took notes. I guess I could mention the characters, since I haven’t really talked about them, but they have no chemistry together. They even try the nickname game, always calling each other “buddy,” “Chlo” or what have you, but it comes off as a group of people that just met and feel uncomfortable being around each other and awkwardly and forcefully trying to strike up a conversation.

If there are any positives to take away from The Devil’s Dolls it’s that the performances are actually pretty decent, especially considering there is a child actor who must be possessed and the special effects aren’t half bad. I say half bad because the majority of it is slashed throats and blood spraying, as if the special effects person was only talented at just that effect and didn’t want to step out of their comfort zone. It’s an unfortunate shame, since the head drilling scene at the beginning was pretty cool. I guess you get your big effect out of the way in the first several minutes, hook in the audience and they’ll keep watching thinking they’ll get more of that. Hey, Scanners did something similar, except that movie was phenomenal. It’s kind of a shocker that Scream Factory of all companies released this movie on Blu-ray. I can’t recall if there were any special features included or not, although I can’t imagine you would want to check them out and at a $20 price tag, it’s probably best to skip this one. However, it is on Netflix if you get curious and I noticed it had about a one star rating. Now I know why.

I can’t say that The Devil’s Dolls was a bad film, it’s just not that interesting. It’s not unwatchable, it’s just forgettable. Nothing sticks out and I found myself very bored and since the movie is incredibly predictable, it’s like jumping forward into the future and having seen it before you actually do. I didn’t hate the film. I just don’t care about it.