[Review] Dolls (Women in Horror Film Festival): A Man’s Obsession Leads to Horror and Humor

Australian dark comedy Dolls involves a man’s unhealthy obsession with his doll collection. It’s a fun short film that also features some heavier moments as it addresses possessiveness and other perilous relationship issues.

A man (Cameron Hurry) and a woman (Caitlin Hill) are in the middle of a heavy makeout session when, after entering his bedroom, the woman discovers his collection of female dolls, which pretty much takes up most of the free space in the room. Disgusted, she makes her feelings known to him and storms out of his home. The dolls then have a heart-to-heart talk with him, suggesting that some time apart may give him a chance at a relationship with a real, flesh and blood woman, and the dolls have dreams of their own, too.

Hurry does a fine job of playing a man whose thinking is obviously far outside the norm. His facial expressions and comic timing are great, and when the proceedings get darker — addressing power and control in both ongoing relationships and breakups — Hurry invests his character with a creepy, menacing feeling. Hill supplies the voices for most of the dolls, and she is super in both her on-screen role and voice acting. Vivienne Abitia and Kyoko Yamada also turn in fine voice performances. 

Clare Sladden wrote the screenplay and co-directed with Jasmine Sladden. The dialogue is a blast, with plenty of funny lines and some equally comical asides. The directors frame the shots wonderfully and balance the comedy and suspense impressively. Some of the shots of the dolls are brilliantly set up and played for human-like expressions. Siobhan Domingo’s cinematography is first rate.

Dolls packs in quite a bit of story, character study, humor, and food for thought in its six-minute running time. Currently on its film festival run, it’s a real delight.

Dolls screens at Women in Horror Film Festival, which runs in Atlanta, Georgia, from February 27–29. 4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

Joseph Perry
Joseph Perry fell in love with horror films as a preschooler when he first saw the Gill-Man swim across the TV screen in "The Creature from The Black Lagoon" and Mothra battle Godzilla in "Godzilla Vs. The Thing.” His education in fright fare continued with TV series such as "The Twilight Zone" and "Outer Limits," along with legendary northern California horror host Bob Wilkins’ "Creature Features." His love for silver age and golden age comic books, including horror titles from Gold Key, Dell, and Marvel started around age 5.

He is a contributing writer for the "Phantom of the Movies VideoScope" and “Drive-In Asylum” print magazines and the websites Horror Fuel, Diabolique Magazine, The Scariest Things, B&S About Movies, and When It Was Cool. He is a co-host of the "Uphill Both Ways" pop culture nostalgia podcast and also writes for its website. Joseph occasionally proudly co-writes articles with his son Cohen Perry, who is a film critic in his own right.

A former northern Californian and Oregonian, Joseph has been teaching, writing, and living in South Korea since 2008.