There were two things that attracted me to this film, firstly Lauren Cohan, also known as The Walking Dead’s Maggie Greene and secondly that the plot sounded ridiculous and creepy which can be a fantastic combination when done right. Creepy originating from the film’s other lead character, a life-sized porcelain doll named Brahms, Cohan’s Greta who is an American nanny, is hired to look after an elderly couple’s young son but when she arrives finds only the doll. Once left alone with Brahms she must follow a list of rules and instructions, but then if you were being paid just to look after a doll, wouldn’t you ignore the rules and do whatever you want? It may not turn out to be such a good idea.
Momentarily ignoring any bias I might have towards Cohan due to being a fan of The Walking Dead, the whole film is resting on her shoulders, you are watching these events unfold from her perspective so it is vital that she manages to connect with the audience and she doesn’t disappoint. Cohan makes the character someone friendly and sympathetic without being vapid and used as purely eye candy for the male portion of the audience (although there is a little bit of that theme). The transition from her role on The Walking Dead as a strong, independent woman to a rather vulnerable, care-giver is seamless, there’s no doubt in her performance as to who the character should be. The rest of the characters, the few that there are, aren’t really as vital and function more as formulaic plot devices that you’ll see in most films of this genre, although the film has definitely done a lot of work to confirm that no, porcelain dolls are never adorable but it does have a strange amount of personality for an inanimate (that part is debatable as the film progresses) object.
The horror genre is without doubt the least dependable of all, and it’s quite probable that nine out of ten releases are barely worth watching, but this is a nicely surprising exception. It takes a ridiculous plot and makes it into a genuine story without turning it into a parody of itself, it’s neither too flimsy or takes itself too seriously, nor is overly predictable but the downside is that it’s also not that scary. Despite the creepy premise, that feeling is not quite as present as you’d expect, there are also fairly few attempts at jump scares throughout the entire 97 minutes. The story takes things at a good pace, without drawing them out too much and in general is quite pleasing but could play up to the horror aspect more strongly.
Taking into consideration the epic mess that this film could have turned out to be, the end result is entirely respectable and decent. Having said that, there’s still plenty that could be improved to make it even better, the events are all relatively safe and never quite wander into the realm of terror and avoid using any particular strong gore or violence, which then if they had may have only cheapened the film, we’ll never know. It’s fairly unusual and a fun watch that will forever strengthen the argument that real looking porcelain dolls are creepy.