Stranger With My Face Short Film Review: DOLL (2017)

Welcome witches and warlocks,

Today I will be reviewing the horror short DOLL by director Jia He. To best describe the story, I will turn to the press materials:

“A girl is trapped in a house where an evil nesting doll captures souls.” 

From a story standpoint, I read that summary and figured this would be right up my alley. I mean a creepy doll, a haunted house, and involving human souls seems like a recipe for greatness. I will admit, the plot was a lot more vague than the above description would leave one to believe. In fact, I would argue that it is not made clear the role that the nesting doll plays into the situation.

While the doll itself might not have been nearly as present as I would have liked, I will say that some of the various effects they pulled off were effective in creating a creepy atmosphere. While most of these things were either short of relatively rudimentary (a chair moving, a pot flying off the stove, etc) they still had impact thanks to being both unexpected and existing within a five minute short. Having so many things happening so quickly made it so that we the audience stayed on the edge of our seats until the final scare.

Granted, the entireties of the proceedings were backed by a tense, fluid score that really grabbed me from the first frame. As intense as some of the visuals were, when cued with the soundtrack they took on an extra chill factor that kept me entirely engaged. The fact that the quick pace of the score managed to keep up with the constantly moving short emphasized how effective a marriage of image and sound can be in creating thrills.

All in all, the vagueness of the storyline is easy to look past thanks to the pacing and atmosphere. After the initial setup, this bad boy runs so fast that we are barely given time to fully process the creepy things at play. Fans of the fast paced short NO CALLER ID (2016) will definitely enjoy this ride.

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