Horror is a hard genre to crack but it is also one that benefits from creative or budgetary restrictions. Filmmakers have found away to make terrifying movies with just about anything. You don’t need lots of money to do this but you need to find a way to use your limitations to your advantage. An effective horror director can make something as commonplace as a door creak become the sounds of nightmares. No matter how much it costs, when a horror movie really works, it works. You can deprive your audience of sleep and make them never forget the scares that they just saw. It will grab a hold of your brain and won’t let you go. The Devil Dolls is not a perfect horror movie but it definitely shows off the potential of its cast and crew.
The Devil Dolls (previously known as The Worry Dolls) is the story of Detective Matt Williams, played by Christopher Wiehl, a detective who helped in the hunt of a notorious serial killer named Henry Leonard Bale. In the aftermath, the peaceful southern town starts experiencing a series of random, brutal murders. Matt quickly discovers that these killings are all connected to a set of ancient dolls known as Worry Dolls, which were given to Bale as a young boy. With both the town and his young daughter’s lives in the balance, Matt must quickly find the dolls and break their curse.
As a film, there is a lot to appreciate about The Devil Dolls. I felt a connection with the characters and wanted to see where the story took them. The worry dolls as a concept were very interesting to me. Christopher Wiehl does a great job as an average detective who is forced to investigate these brutal and supernatural crimes. I thought the young actors in the film were very good but a little bit underwritten. The film moves at a mostly reasonable pace and focuses on character and scares in a way that not a lot of mainstream horror movies do.
I also really liked the film’s combination of voodoo horror and slasher elements. You don’t see that a lot in horror these days and I think it really worked well here. The blend of supernatural and realistic crime added a lot to the suspense of the film. Director Padraig Reynolds finds a great way to stage and use gore in this film. The kills in this movie are unsettling and terrifying. The camera work and cinematography of this film adds to the tension and atmosphere of the film. Every shot works in a discomforting way and really takes advantage of its southern setting in a way that you don’t see a lot of in horror films.
The only weak link in my opinion is the script. The story itself is interesting but the execution script wise is a little iffy. It is not terrible but I felt that it is not up to the quality of the cinematography or atmosphere of the movie. I felt that given how unconventional the background of the movie is that the movie would be a little less straightforward in how it handled things. Sometimes the characters did things that were a little foolish but made sense in the context of the story. With a little bit of a stronger script, I think this movie could definitely be a lot more memorable. It’s not a deal breaker but it does drag the film down a bit.
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