This was… different. In a good way!
Dolly Deadly is written and directed by Heidi Moore. Lead cast members include Justin Moore, Kimberly West-Carroll, Jay Sosnicki, Dana Nelson and Lawrence Moore. The film follows Benji (Justin Moore), a young boy from the trailer park who can’t take another moment of ridicule from his family and peers. With support from his beloved dollies, he sets out for blood.
Dolly Deadly starts like a traditional horror film from the 70’s or 80’s, which is what I’m sure it was intended to be considering there was a calendar on the wall from 1979. From the jump we get a couple flashes of nudity, a mountain of creepy, dirty dolls and a wicked tone that sets the course for the rest of the movie. Dolly Deadly was never going to be a film with a happy ending and viewers will recognize that right from the very beginning. I was under the impression that the film would continue much in the same way that the Black Christmas remake did, with a kid being tortured throughout his youth and coming back as a pissed off adult, but instead it went the route of the Halloween remake with young Benji suffering a mental break as a child and becoming a murderer at that stage of life.
I think what will really draw horror fans to Dolly Deadly is its use of practical effects over CGI. In the same opening sequence I mentioned above, viewers will also be treated to a a skin boiling special effect that it is so expertly administered that it looked real and was one of the best examples of the effect that I’ve ever seen. Hell, it even used stop motion for some disturbing shots. All the blood, dirt and gore makes Benji’s world a much darker place, but I think it’s the director and cinematographer’s use of experimental elements that will really shock viewers at home. Dolly Deadly is equal parts a grindhouse horror film and a psychological drama, but adding experimental filmmaking tactics will set it apart from the pack. I’m all for exploring new avenues of horror and Dolly Deadly is definitely an original gorefest that brings something new to the child killer subgenre.
My only problem is… I don’t know if creepy dolls are enough to keep the viewer interested for the entire movie. This tool can only go so far and the fact of the matter is the few on screen deaths we do get are at the tail end of the movie. The scenes of poor Benji being abused by his family are hard to watch because he’s just a kid and he’s receiving so much psychological abuse. You know he’s going to break eventually, so there’s a bit of suspense to be found. But, besides the life size doll talking to Benji, there aren’t too many uncomfortable moments that can fall into the category of straight up horror. I don’t know if Dolly Deadly accomplished everything it set out to do. I’m sure I sat through my viewing with a “what the fuck am I watching” face and a “when is he going to kill people” face, but I don’t know if more critical viewers than myself are going to stick it out for this one. It’s for that reason that I’m going to rate Dolly Deadly right up the middle with a final score of 5.5 out of 10.