The titular Genevieve is a supposedly haunted doll with a body count. Said possessed doll currently belongs to the grief-stricken Ted Morris (Shawn C. Phillips), who is attending his son’s funeral. With his house empty, two burglars break in to steal the infamous doll, hoping to sell it and make a profit. But upon entering the house, David (writer-director Nicholas Michael Jacobs), realizes that he has bitten off more than he can chew, as the demented doll attempts to protect the house in which she lives. David quickly understands that his plan has gone awry, and what was a simple burglary has become a fight for his life.
I’ve been on a Friday the 13th kick lately, watching, for the first time, all twelve Jason Vorhees related films. Coincidentally, the “ki, ma” sound, which is forever associated with the popular franchise and keeps audiences on the edge of their seats, plays somewhat of a role in Jacobs’s Genevieve. While the music is obviously not the same, I’m sure for copyright reasons, the constant ticking and general eeriness of the music strewn throughout the film, like the “ki, ma” sounds, keep audiences on edge. In many ways the soundtrack is irritating, and while that might not sound like a great idea on the part of the filmmakers, it enables audiences to empathize with the mental torture David endures throughout the short.
With a film that runs less than five minutes, understanding everyone’s motivations in such a short amount of time is a struggle. But the director bypasses character development by unnerving and discombobulating the audience by smartly using the music and sound effects. In a film of this caliber, the soundtrack might seem like a trivial decision, but Jacobs nails it and gives Genevieve the ability to thrill audiences to some capacity.
“…what was a simple burglary has become a fight for his life.”
Aside from the score, Genevieve lacks any genuine momentum or scares. It seems that spouting off unnecessary obscenities is Phillips and Jacobs’s attempt to make David appear more human. There is no influx in his voice, and viewers never see his face, which means they cannot connect with him on an emotional level. It is hard to speak to Jacob’s abilities as an actor, as does not seem to get to show off all that he is capable of. However, it is clear that Jacobs’s role in Genevieve is uninspiring and leaves audiences needing more to appreciate what is taking place fully.
Christine Musser, the Genevieve doll’s creator, does a wonderful job of making an inanimate character terrify audiences. Similar to the supernatural doll from the Annabelle movies, Genevieve’s role is to torture both characters and viewers alike. Impressively, even with a low budget, Musser’s demented looking doll does just that. Her ability to creep audiences out means that Musser and Jacobs succeed in bringing the murderous doll to life.
Genevieve is a great stepping stone towards success for its young filmmakers. Jacobs’s choices regarding the soundtrack and Musser’s masterful craftsmanship of the eerie doll will keep viewers on edge and provide thrills and chills. Sadly, Jacobs’s uninspiring acting caps the potential of Genevieve and creates a disconnect between story and audiences. Couple that with the uninspiring characterizations, and Genevieve ultimately leaves you feeling underwhelmed.
"…lacks any genuine momentum or scares."