Friday, 23 September 2011

The Doll Master (Jeong Yong-gi, 2004)




The old 'fuck, aren't mannequins creepy?' sub-genre is always worth taking out for a spin around the block every few years. As sub-genres go it's a pretty safe bet for some mid-level chills, but rarely produces a stone-cold classic. Such is the case with the Korean flick The Doll Master, which is quite atmospheric and moody but never really does much beyond reminding us that, yes, mannequins are creepy and, no, we wouldn't much like to wake up in the night to find one dangling off the ceiling. and staring at us.



The plot concerns a quartet of folks receiving the old 'mysterious invitation to a house in the middle of nowhere' gambit, a plot device so evergreen that it can be used perfectly happily in everything from torture porn to Miss Marple. In this case, they've apparently been invited there in order to model for dolls. From this point in, if you expect there to simply be a spot of doll-modelling followed by everyone heading home in time for Eastenders you're rather overlooking the narrative engine of every horror movie since the dawn of time.

So where do things go from there? Just one direction; doll scares. Dolls in mirrors, dolls out of windows and, best of all, dolls in toilets. The bastards are everywhere, and we're not talking Charles Band style mini-horrors, we're talking shop window dummy size. Like the Autons, but with glossy hair.

Thankfully, they aren't CGI, either. They're usually just actual mannequins, positioned carefully in frame (or in bowl, in the toilet case) to give the viewer the willies. And an awful lot of the time it works rather well.

The plot tie-up is slightly confused and the last line is genuinely awful, but if you haven't spent 90 minutes pondering how fucking creepy mannequins are lately, you could do a whole lot worse than The Doll Master.

***/5

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