I recently thought about doll horror movies and realized that I personally don’t know one single example that I really really love. I think that the last scene in the original “Chucky” is amazing and that the movies generally are quite entertaining and yes, that Annabelle-doll from the “Conjuring”-Franchise looks scary. But the movies themselves are really not that amazing. I think a lot of it comes from the fact that the sound of really small feet running across the floor looses its scare-factor as soon as you realize that you could basically just fling that thing out of the window or let your little puppy play with it. It’s not like a little monster “The Gate”-style. It’s a freaking rubber/cotton doll!
So, I sat down and tried to come up with a few doll-related horror movies that are either highly entertaining or incredibly creepy. This is my meager list (some spoilers ahead):
Meet May, a young, lonely woman with a horrible mother and her only friend, a doll in a glass case, on her journey to find true love …
“May” is one of these horror movies that is not just horror but also a fantasy. The protagonist’s twisted but also romantic world view is endearing and pathetic at once and the movie balances comedy and horrifying extremes very well.
I also want to add that the cast is perfect. Angela Bettis is so charming and lovely and frail and she basically makes “May” what it is. The movie was written and directed by Lucky McKee who let Bettis be her lovely creepy self again in his “Masters of Horror”-episode “Sick Girl” (another recommendation but none for this topic).
Beware of the trailer, it’s quite spoiler-y
I usually am an ignorant idiot when it comes to older horror movies but “Magic” is quite a ride with a very young Anthony “pre-Silence of the Lambs” Hopkins who is a velintroquist with a – you guessed it – murderous little doll.
The movie’s strength is the weird, tense atmosphere that slowly rises till the end when you’re basically clawing marks into your palms with your fingernails. Hopkins is exceptional in this movie, that’s all I can say without spoilering you.
The Boy (2016)
I am not necessarily amazed by this movie but it’s still a little creepy (until the last act which – as so often – went a little overboard). A babysitter has a new job in a giant villa taking care of the doll of a boy as if it’s a real kid.
I mean, that alone is creepy and the doll design is lovely because for once it’s not the crude “always the same”-face of that one velintroquist-doll from the “Twilight Zone”-episode but an actual new and different design.
This French horror movie is – as most French horror movies – visually stunning and absolutely grotesque in its violence. It’s about a care taker who uses her access to an old lady’s house to rob the place with her friends. Suffice to say, things don’t go as planned.
Well, there is a doll at play in this movie and furthermore as a central plot point and for once, it’s not the typical evil child’s doll but that’s all I am going to say. I would not say that this movie is a full-on success but it is alluring and a nice take on one of my favourite genres (Criminals stumbling into supernatural clusterfucks).
I also want to mention a few movies that are kind of necessary to mention but that I don’t like all that much (+ one pretty good comedy-horror-series).
First of all: if you like wild franchises with each movie getting more crazy and absurd, then I do recommend either “Chucky” or “Puppet Master” to you. The first one is probably known to you, the second one is a weird b-movie saga with a gazillion movies about incredibly creepy dolls (honestly, that design is out of this world because it’s so crude). However, it’s quality, story-telling and acting is really full on b-movie.
Now, the “Chuckie”-franchise is equally bonkers with the bonus of a pretty good first movie and the later movies being graced with the talents of Jennifer Tilly, who I love dearly.
The newest entry in the franchise, however, is really lame compared to “Bride of Chucky” and the close to awful-but-not-quite “Seed of Chucky” (it has a weird cult following but I myself am not a fan).
Then, obviously, people will scream at me if I don’t mention “Dead Silence”. I hate that movie and will happily tell you why in another post. Let’s just say that I don’t think it’s the immersive, creepy and innovative gem that fans and critics think it is. However, the first 10-20 minutes are like a different movie AND have Laura Regan who is the best actress in the whole movie and I won’t have anyone tell me differently.
Last but also least, the “Conjuring”-franchise has born its own creepy doll with the supposedly real doll “Annabelle”. Now, the whole franchise lives from the “fact” that the paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren are not just some savvy con artists preying on people’s traumas and insecurities (guess, what I think). Which also means, that the doll the movies are based on is also real and not just an actually not even creepy looking old doll used to make some superstition-money (guess, what I think!).
The “Annabelle”-movies are so-so. The second one is weirdly better than the first, but then again, the 3rd “Insidious”-movie is also weirdly better than the 2nd, so the old rules of sequels don’t apply anymore, what a crazy world we’re living in.
If you like dark British humor, I actually recommend the very very morbid and funny tv show “Psychoville” which features – in its first season – a pretty creepy story about a doll (amongst other stories). The series also features an adorably young Daniel Kaluuya and a clown that is funny AND horrifying.
I will add to this list and am also glad to hear your recommendations!
More horror movie lists with varying quality can be found here, click, enjoy the selections and even find some horror-themed music playlists, booray!