From the creators of the original Saw comes this atmospheric but unfocused tale of a possessed ventriloquist’s dummy that likes to kill people. Yeah, it’s not just you… the plot is ripped straight out of a hundred other horror films, including Devil Doll and Child’s Play, but what director James Wan lacks in originality he makes up for in visual style. This is a great-looking film, and one that’s decidedly old-fashioned in its goals: the movie wants to *scare* you, not gross you out, and it succeeds in establishing a deliciously macabre tone from the opening scenes. I had fun watching it.
But while Leigh Wannell’s screenplay contains an intriguing backstory for the doll’s history, it also contains some insufferable dialogue that reeks of every horror movie cliche you can imagine (such as the main character screaming to the police officer, “I didn’t kill anyone! It was the doll! You’ve got to believe me!”) And we also have to endure scenes where the main character defies all logic in his actions (i.e., while sitting in his car, he sees the doll fly past his window. So does he drive away to safety? No, he gets out to investigate. Suuuuure.)
And as with Saw, the final scene is a bit of a mindf**k. But that’s okay… my brain hasn’t gotten lucky in a while.
Clint Eastwood’s directorial debut, and the film that established the “psycho girlfriend” template that would eventually result in Fatal Attraction. Eastwood plays a radio disc jockey who broadcasts smooth jazz on the overnight shift at a dilapidated radio station. A lonely female listener becomes obsessed with him, and soon their “no strings attached” one-night stand turns sour when she becomes first clingy, then smothering, and then positively Looney Tunes.
Eastwood the director is not as confident as Eastwood the actor, and his shot compositions are sometimes lacking the artistry for which he’d later be known, but there’s an interesting story to be found here. It won’t knock you out, but this 1971 thriller is an enjoyable enough way to pass 100 minutes or so.
Or, more correctly, it’s a fun way to pass 98 minutes… because the last two minutes are terrible. Talk about an anti-climax. Sheesh.