Written by: Lois Kennedy
In this Syfy original movie, Alyson (Jaime Pressly) is a newly separated mother adjusting to life in a new house. Her daughter Claire finds a creepy doll in her room, and before long she’s acting like a screechy brat. Also, just for funsies the doll kills everyone who crosses it. To add to the misfortune, Claire and the doll become connected; whatever happens to the doll happens to Claire. For example, when Alyson roughly pulls the doll out from under Claire’s bed, a bruise appears on Claire’s arm. Which makes life interesting when Claire’s psychologist (Tobin Bell, who looks hilarious with a moustache) suspects Alyson of abuse. Alyson decides to join forces with her professor friend Elena (Justina Machado) and Claire’s father Jonathan (Patrick Muldoon) to stop the doll and save Claire.
This movie puts me in the mood to gripe. The characters in the film are hard to care about. Claire is particularly insufferable. The moment she picks up the doll, its malevolent influence on her makes her act out. She smashes plates, lies to her psychologist, and pulls the wings off of flies. She also has the obnoxious habit of running away from her parents, so much so that they ought to invest in a child leash. Then there’s Alyson, who is ludicrously blasé at most events. Claire, on the subject of her father, tells Alyson, “You’re always busy with your stupid writing. No wonder he hates you.” Alyson replies by saying she’s going to take care of the check for the meal they ate. When Alyson coughs up a live fly, she shoos it away, then goes back to her business. While she is hiding in a closet, a corpse falls on her, and she just shoves it in the other direction. A super-possessed Claire starts throttling her, and she calmly accepts it. (Then again, in comparison to living with that monster of a child, getting strangled might be a better option.)
The minor characters are nobody to root for either, like Jonathan’s needy sort-of girlfriend Kathy. She ignores Jonathan’s request to have a night alone with his daughter and invites herself over with the selfish reasoning that she missed him. Marina Sirtis’s talents are wasted here as Alyson’s creepy cat-lady neighbor. Tobin Bell is given a better role and a little more screen time, but he too is squandered. I have difficulty buying him as a child psychologist, silly moustache or not, and he barely has time to win me over. Overall everyone seems to have lost their ability to act, with the noble exception of Justina Machado, who coincidentally plays the only tolerable character and utters the only likable line of dialogue. While figuring out a solution to the doll problem, she reasons that removing the doll’s eyes will probably work. When pressed by Jonathan for more surety, she snaps, “How many times do you think I’ve done this?”
As can be expected, there are questions of logic. For example, in one scene the doll possesses a truck driver to make him crash. If it can do that, why doesn’t it just kill everyone by possessing them? It must be terribly difficult to kill people while being only a few inches high. Speaking of being very small, in one scene, the doll somehow hoists two corpses onto a chandelier. That must be a mighty tall ladder it used. There’s also Alyson’s decision to give the doll to Elena to study, despite the fact that she knows it will murder to find its way back home. Also, the doll enjoys killing people who have no effect on it, like a neighbor or a waitress that tries to throw her away (not spoilers, believe me), but doesn’t kill Claire’s parents, who are actively trying to get rid of it. The doll makes the flimsy excuse to Alyson that Claire doesn’t need her anymore, but why not kill Jonathan?
I’m hard pressed to think of reasons to give it a watch. The cast, mostly. I still enjoy Pressly and Bell, even in such a ridiculous setting. The visual effects are surprisingly good, at least for a Syfy movie. It’s bad, but it’s funny bad, not painful bad. Give it a look if you’re in the mood to laugh.
About the author: Lois Kennedy is an avid horror fan who loves to write. You can also find her on Facebook, WordPress, and YouTube under the pseudonym Ghoulie Joe.