REVIEWED BY JOE YOUNG
Amy Crowdis and Robin Lord Taylor star in a slow burning yet powerful tale about the escalation of grief into madness.
Melanie Crow is a teenager attempting to come to terms with the suicide of her mother, which followed on from her father’s death in an accident, so now Melanie is left alone with nothing but a large partly home-made doll for company. There is a tangible and natural sense of mental isolation working here, with Crowdis providing a character that at no time dips below believable even when she is talking to the creepy doll of the title.
This isn’t a film with jump scares, spooky soundtracks, flashy camera work or even artificially glamorous actors, but is a rather more subdued film in overall tone. It has a very thin plot, which is actually one of the better aspects of this film as it is not relying on the usual crash bang wallop we too often get subjected to. At most basic we are being shown a slice of life, the tragic one that Melanie is currently enduring will no doubt ring true with many of the viewers who have suffered similar losses. There are questions arising from her situation with no obvious answers, these are largely along the lines of “Is Melanie insane?” and “Is the Doll her dead mother controlling her?” Or is it simply that the grief is just too much?
Robin Lord Taylor in a pre-Gotham role provides the perfect degree of balance as “Dukken” an “Emo” Melanie meets in a library. They strike up an awkward friendship, with Dukken proving to be somewhat likeable and patient as he attempts to gain a greater understanding of Melanie. There is definite warmth in his portrayal which perfectly counters Melanie’s stand-offishness.
There are slight hints towards the supernatural here, yet no neon signposts for it as is the norm for other doll-related movies, and I couldn’t even say that it’s a conventional horror film even though there are very real horrors abound. What it actually is, to my way of thinking at least, is a beautifully constructed dark drama.