Director – Charles Band
Cast – Jared Kusnitz, Gabrielle Lynn, Kristyn Green, Anna Alicia Brock, Brian Lloyd, Scott Seymour, Ken Lyle, Hannah Marks
Release Year – 2005
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Doll Graveyard is a film that interested me solely because it involved killer dolls, a favorite sub-genre of mine. I was skeptical of this film because it is a Full Moon release, usually a sign of low-quality horror, so naturally I took my sweet time getting to this one. While the doll action was mostly-positive and it came with a fun atmosphere, Doll Graveyard is a mediocre film at best due to poor execution and some silly writing.
It is 1905 and young Sophia is playing with her four handmade dolls, her only friends in life, until her negligence results in the destruction of a valuable family heirloom. Her authoritarian father forces her to bury her dolls in the backyard, but an unfortunate event results in Sophia’s death, leading her father to bury her in the very grave she dug for her dolls. 100 years later the Killbrook family has moved into the home, and while doing his yardwork chores Guy Killbrook(Jared Kusnitz) accidentaly unearths the long-buried dolls. Guy lives a similar life to the late Sophia as his only real friends are his action figures, leading Sophia’s spirit to possess the dolls and make friends with Guy. When their father heads out for the night on a date, Guy’s sister Shirley invites her friends over for a night of boozing and messing around with a few jocks who make the mistake of harassing and destroying one of Guy’s prized possessions. The Sophia-possessed dolls are not happy about this, and in their attempt to keep Guy safe the begin to hack up the jocks, and in turn aim their sights at Shirley and her friends.
If you have been following me then you know of my absurd love for horror involving inanimate objects, especially dolls. Because of this I enjoyed the overall story for the most part, with my main balks being the silly writing involving the horrendous dialogue, poor character usage, and many useless scenes all piled up into a mere 60 minutes of story. Yes that is correct, despite the film’s listed runtime of 71 minutes, it comes with 11 minutes of credits, meaning the story is only an hour long, and even then it could not keep my engaged the whole time. Thankfully, the usage of the dolls was fairly positive, and while they did not come off the least bit scary(as with any dolls associated with Full Moon) they delivered a few good kills.
Longtime Full Moon producer/director Charles Band delivers this film to us, and with the usual Full Moon antics, which never satisfy me. The look of the dolls is good, and for a low-budget film they come with good live-action FX as well and deliver some cheap but positive gore. That accompanied with the film’s atmosphere(a comfortable home with a dark past) are about all that Mr. Band got right though. Everything else regarding his direction/execution was mediocre at best, and I could not take this film seriously despite this not being a devout horror/comedy, in which case I would watch it like one respectively. Instead Band tries to include good “cheeze” but instead delivered rotten milk that will mostly likely only appease the hardened Full Moon fan. Jared Kusnitz made his film debut with this watch, and I am glad to see that he has removed himself from lesser films and made his way into the positives with Dance of the Dead and Otis. Kusnitz did well in his role, and for the most part the other 7 actors involved in this piece did OK, which I found especially surprising given that this was not only the debut film for Kusnitz, but all of the other acts as well. Yes, ALL of them.
Overall, Doll Graveyard is a mediocre watch at best that contained some good ideas and sweet-looking dolls but failed on both writing and direction overall. Fans of Full Moon or fans of killer doll films(like me) can find some joy in this flick, but regardless I don’t believe it carries enough good horror to be worthy of recommendation, especially at only 60 minutes of story.