After a series of inexplicable events, Adeline Gray believes a haunted doll possesses the soul of a vengeful witch. To have any hope of being reunited with her missing daughter, she knows she must defeat the evil curse of The Witch’s Doll.
The Curse of the Witch’s Doll is a bad film. This is not to cast aspersions on every element in the piece, as there are fleeting bits of solid work. Yet, despite giving the movie one hour and thirty-five minutes of my attention, it did not affect me in any way at all. I was not interested, I was not scared, I was not even amused at blatant missteps. This was a film of relentless mediocrity that recalled elevator music and the color beige in that nothing was particularly remarkable.
“…little Chloe notices a comically scary doll leering down at them from an upstairs window.”
The story begins as Adeline Gray (Helen Crevel) and her daughter Chloe (Layla Watts) arrive at a palatial manor in the English countryside during World War 2. Arthur (Philip Ridout), the old man living the expansive estate, has allowed the two to rent from him in their time of need. As the two approach the home, little Chloe notices a comically scary doll leering down at them from an upstairs window. This is when we think the movie will become a mix of Child’s Play and The Others. But don’t get your hopes up.
The two wander around the grounds and have their fair share of paranormal scares. The kind that has the characters questioning if things are in their head. The kind where something horrible happens and then suddenly the perp has vanished, leaving them to question their sanity. The Witch (Claire Carreno), does a satisfactory job in her one scene as a creepy, burnt-to-a-crisp, witch, but again, this leads nowhere. Thankfully, it is here that Isaac G. Perez clean camera work captures Ruby Rawlings sparse production design and Liz Fowler’s costume work.
Then the film eschews feature film convention by tossing the three-act structure out the window and taking the story in a direction that could only be explained as derivative. We are introduced to Detective Nolan (Neil Hobbs), and a host of looneys in an asylum. All of this would be tolerable if the story were engaging, original, and compelling. It is not.
“All of this would be tolerable if the story were engaging, original, and compelling...”
A movie is a hard thing to make, a good movie even harder, and a good movie with little to no budget is a damned miracle. Yet they CAN be done. There are nice things here, but none of them were elements that were imperative. The script here needed major work as did the pacing. Long, very long, drawn-out stretches of whispered dialogue or lingering shots of concerned or pensive characters did nothing but bring the story to screeching halt. Just a crumby bit of cinema.
I take little pleasure in writing a review that s***s on the efforts of artists doing what they have dreamed of doing all their lives. But if an audience is willing to watch, the artists need to care about what they are doing and deliver something that is fueled by the sincere effort to entertain.
The Curse of the Witch’s Doll (2017) Written and Directed by Lawrence Fowler. Starring: Helen Crevel, Philip Ridout, and Layla Watts.
The Curse of the Witch’s Doll is worth VOD (**).
Norm’s Rating System: Full Price (****), Matinee (***), VOD (**), Don’t Bother (*)