In preparation of the release of “The Boy” on Blu-Ray and DVD (May 10), I thought it would be great to write about some iconic scary dolls that have terrified us in horror films. Dolls are toys that the majority of us have had at one point in our lives. As children they were our friends and we could speak to them knowing that in their silence, they understood us in a way that no one else could. I remember being a child and having my own doll; a Strawberry Shortcake. She was lovely and I cherished her with all my being. Even now, at the age of 32, I can remember her face filled with freckles, a friendly smile, and vibrant red hair. Though I may look back fondly on that doll, another image starts to form inside my head. A doll, with similar features such as freckles, a friendly smile, and vibrant red hair. Sometimes he is referred to as a Good Guy Doll though others may refer to him by his famous name, Chucky.
The horror genre has made a booming business off of scary dolls, and really, who can blame them? As a child, dolls were our friends but as an adult, they almost seem to take on a more sinister quality. Maybe it’s the fake smile plastered on their face combined with the glassy eyes that give the illusion that something is not quite right. We also can thank horror films for making these seemingly innocent toys into vicious monsters. For me, Chucky was my introduction. I don’t know how old I was when I first watched “Child’s Play” but I must have been young because soon after I could never look at Strawberry Shortcake the same. Soon after I was introduced to the equally horrifying Clown Doll in “Poltergeist” which to this day still frightens me.
In the horror doll category, Chucky is probably the most iconic, but is he the most terrifying? If you were to ask me when I was 5, the answer hands down would be yes. As an adult, not so much, mainly due to how ridiculous (yet awesome) his films got as the years went on. Will Chucky always be an icon? Of course. Does Chucky have some fresh competition in the horror doll department? Absolutely. There have been so many terrifying dolls in horror films but I’ve chosen two current ones that have garnered much attention, the infamous Annabelle (The Conjuring, Annabelle), and new-comer Brahms (The Boy).
Aside from Chucky, the other notorious doll some may have heard of is Annabelle. You may be familiar with Annabelle from James Wan’s film “The Conjuring” where we get a little snippet into who Annabelle is and why she is so terrifying. However, some of us (including myself), have been familiar with the Annabelle story for quite some time. What makes Annabelle so terrifying? Annabelle is more than just a toy doll - she is based off a true story of renowned paranormal investigators, Ed and Lorraine Warren, who came face to face with Annabelle in the 1970’s. If you believe the stories, the doll was said to be inhabited by the spirit of a dead girl named “Annabelle Higgins.” The owners of the doll tried to be accepting of it, but soon Annabelle started showing signs of malevolent and evil behavior. The Warrens were contacted and they removed the doll and placed it in their museum. Annabelle is encased in a glass box with the words “Warning, Positively Do Not Open” and to this day the Warrens believe it to be demonically possessed. This story was briefly shown in “The Conjuring” before getting it’s own film “Annabelle.” Though many people are not a fan of the latter film, I found it to be terrifying. I guess you could say demonic dolls are a weakness of mine.
The latest doll to terrorize the screen is Brahms from the 2016 movie “The Boy”. When an American nanny moves to the English countryside, she is shocked to learn that the boy she is to care for is actually a life-sized doll. After ignoring a set of strict rules to care for Brahms, disturbing events begin to unfold and she soon realizes that the doll may be alive. I was really surprised with how good this movie was and how terrifying Brahms is. Dolls are frightening to begin with but a life-sized doll puts me right over the edge, especially when the doll looks so realistic. Throughout the movie I found myself asking, is Brahm’s actually alive? The film has so many twists and turns that it’s hard to delve into who, or what, Brahm’s really is, but I can tell you, in the end it leaves you unsettled if not a bit horrified. This is one of the better scary doll horror films that I have seen in quite some time. The director, William Brent Bell, does such a great job of building tension, adding confusion, and keeping us on the edge of our seats until the final reveal. Brahms is a new evil that to the delight of the horror world we have welcomed with open arms.
When it comes to dolls, it’s amazing what our imagination is capable of doing, but we know that in reality these toys are not alive. Sure, they may creep us out, but the odds of waking up one morning to a doll speaking to you is pretty much nil. That doesn’t mean we don’t wonder. There are so many unexplained things in this world and so many accounts of paranormal and/or demonic activity that it makes you wonder, could a doll be possessed? Are we just not on the level that we can see and/or experience that? We may never know, but we have movies such as “Child’s Play”, “Annabelle”, and “The Boy” to keep our imagination running wild and our curiosities appeased.
Nightmarish Conjurings has partnered up with the wonderful people at Universal Studios to do a special giveaway for “The Boy”! From now until May 20th you can enter to win a Bluray/Digital HD copy of “The Boy”, along with a t-shirt and special candle that mimics the look of Brahms. To enter, simply send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject THE BOY Giveaway and tell us who your favorite scary doll is along with your name and address. We will randomly select the winner on May 20th and notify you immediately!