Lost Dolls Image

Lost Dolls

By Michael Talbot-Haynes | July 10, 2024

There are some films where the term WTF doesn’t even scratch the surface, as seen in the spectacular misfit toy feature Lost Dolls by writer/director Jaroslaw Gogolin. It opens with a tree and the quote, “And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul.” Living in the woods, a lost doll of a little girl has adventures, wandering through the woods in her dress that has been repurposed with pieces of camouflage.

In the city, a fancy little girl doll in a new dress is taken out to the curb in a box of discarded clutter. She wanders the streets, eventually finding her way into the forest. She runs into some other dolls like herself, who are also lost. Meanwhile, the feral doll keeps discovering deeper mysteries between the trees. Deep in the woods is an enchantress doll with a magic staff who wears a necklace of the Shambhala Tree.

There is also a doll of a spooky old hag that appears at times. There are also scary dolls with pale skin and black veins all over their faces, some with wings. Then there are the evil clown dolls, so watch out. Also, there is a doll of Death, all garbed in black, playing chess with itself on a stump. What paths will these lost dolls find, and where will they lead?

There are a thousand ways you will be astonished by Lost Dolls. The first is suppressing your disbelief that Gogolin went out and made a full-length feature by waving a bunch of dolls around in nature. Well, he did, and here it is, staring you right in the eye. Yes, the dolls are hand-animated, meaning a hand is holding the doll off-camera to make it move. The movements and angles of the camera bring the static toys to life, as they are shot like real subjects to great effect.

“…eventually finding her way into the forest. She runs into some other dolls like herself, who are also lost.”

There is a tangible resonance in the frozen faces of the toys to the point where you can imagine them to have feelings. Gogolin’s excellent storytelling easily fills up the nearly two-hour running time, as he keeps conflicts cropping up throughout and upping the cosmic ante in the right places. I was never bored and was left wanting even more. And this was from a movie with no character names, dialogue, or established context. Instead of being hampered by the lack of these elements, the narrative is liberated to fly much higher than you would expect.

In Lost Dolls, Gogolin applies many of the methods that famed director Tarkovsky developed in the last century. This includes very deliberate, languid shots showing the small details in the fabric of the imagery. That the central focal point of the composition is a toy doll actually enhances the potency of this slow-cook stylization. It also makes you wonder how much Stalker would kick a*s more if it were reshot with action figures.

You will also find Bergman references, which are not too shabby. To seal the deal, Gogolin uses a plethora of mesmerizing electronic ambient songs. This sonic blanket wraps around the playtime visions, setting the atmosphere to ethereal settings. Where Gogolin truly triumphs is the air of mystery that he maintains by not over-defining the story elements.

It’s like the lyrics Robert Hunter wrote for the Grateful Dead: it gives you striking specifics while leaving the general idea in the dark. This also means that Lost Dolls is a perfect movie to get high on. You have not truly lived until you get stoned watching baby dolls frolic for two hours. Also, in case you think this is rather superficial, there are warnings on these tracks for sections of deep spirituality. I may not totally understand the meaning, but I totally get where it is coming from.

Lost Dolls is a weird wonder that could only have risen from the wilds of indie cinema. Wind this movie up for a cinema experience not to be toyed with.

Lost Dolls (2024)

Directed and Written: Jaroslaw Gogolin

Starring: Dolls, dolls, dolls, etc.

Movie score: 8/10

Lost Dolls Image

"…the narrative is liberated to fly much higher that you would expect."

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join our Film Threat Newsletter

Newsletter Icon