Written by: Matt Molgaard
Directed by: Padraig Reynolds
Cast: Christopher Wiehl, Kym Jackson, Tina Lifford, Kennedy Brice
You know you’re in for an intense journey when you see a bound woman make an escape, only to be chased by a lunatic with a massive power drill who catches up to said woman moments after running into a police cruiser. And then that madman drives that power drill (that’s a massive bit, by the way) straight through the officer’s melon… and not even eight minutes have ticked off the clock. As the kids love to say, shit just got real. Real fast.
Moments prior to this insanity we get a look at the antagonist, a killer by the name of Henry, blessing – or cursing – a series of handmade voodoo dolls. Whatever evil business this bastard is into, he plans on passing it along in one way or another. Let’s just hope some sweet innocent child doesn’t get her hands on those dolls…
After our introductory hook the credits open and are accompanied by the absolutely beautiful Sixteen Horsepower track “Hutterite Mile.” It’s grimly appropriate after the darkness we just witnessed, and helps sets a bleak tone to the picture; a tone that remains, unwavering through the duration of the picture.
We get a look at two police officers – apparently detectives – who discuss the entire situation. It’s clearly a heart breaking case to both Matt and Darcy, our two focal protagonists, who bear the burden of the case in their demeanor and posture. They’ve also discovered the box that holds those nasty little voodoo dolls, which means these creepy things are no longer lost to the world of a serial killer, they’re now police evidence. But will they remain locked away, or will they somehow find a pair of easily influenced hands to hold them once more?
Matt, one of our aforementioned primary detectives swings by his estranged wife’s home to see his daughter Chloe (played by Kennedy Brice who did a bang up job in last year’s June). The dolls still rest in the back of Matt’s vehicle, and little Chloe makes her way into the vehicle hoping to snag a gift from her old man. But what she snags is that box, and we all know what that means: Hell’s gates are about to swing open once more, and our fear that a child might come to be in possession of these evil trinkets comes true.
I’ve got to issue major praise to the cast, first and foremost. While there’s a lack of true marquee names affixed to the project, there’s no lack of talent detectable. Christopher Wiehl steals the show as the troubled detective and conflicted father. He’s great – juggling personal and career troubles in stunning fashion – and it isn’t hard to see a large audience buying into every word the man says. Kym Jackson offers up superb support as his partner, Darcy, the level-headed thinker of the two, capable of separating life and work a bit better than Matt manages. These two compliment each other quite well. And then, of course, young Kennedy Brice gets a nod of admiration and respect; this young lady’s performance greatly defies her inexperience. She’s awesome – hell, the entire cast is awesome.
It isn’t long before we see Chloe withdraw and open the box containing the dolls. They’ve landed in the worst hands imaginable, and we know trouble is on the way the moment Chloe begins making jewelry out of these hideous little dolls. She may not be aware of it initially, but Chloe is about to kick start another string of ghastly murders.
We won’t travel too much deeper into the recesses of the picture. That’s spoiler territory and we’re steering clear of that nonsense. But know this: the moment in which Chloe touches these creations, the film spirals into total and complete darkness, for now we not only fear for the grown figures of the film, we also fear for Chloe, an innocent caught up in a supernatural affair she neither understands nor knows how to combat. And this is a problem that certainly needs to be attacked head on, before the bodies start to really, really pile up.
Worry Dolls is loaded with awesome gore, crisp filming and smooth transitions. In other words, aesthetically speaking, Worry Dolls really delivers the goods. There are a few minor errors (contaminating crime scenes seems to be the cool thing to do in the film), but they’re overlookable issues that many, if not most films run into at some point. It’s hard to dock points from a film that scores far more homeruns than strike-outs.
If aggressive possession tales work for you, Worry Dolls will do the trick. The same could be said for the gore freaks of the world; Worry Dolls is delightfully bloody and often ultraviolent. There’s no downtime to contemplate here, as director Padraig Reynolds keeps the picture moving at an accelerated rate. That, much like the performances and graphic violence, score big with me. If you want to see a very inspired and savage independent film, Worry Dolls is a treasure ready to be unearthed.