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Sunday, March 4, 2018 | Review

As someone who has been up to my neck in the cinematic horror genre before even stepping out of diapers, it’s fair for me to claim I’m rather desensitized when it comes to scares. However, my heart isn’t completely shaded black. And I think I speak for many when there are two things in this beautiful genre (or any for that matter) that will break even the toughest of viewers. Only one thing in this genre can rival the cutting of an onion here. That is, of course, the cinematic death of pure innocence- children and dogs.

Enter Al Lougher’s THE DOLLMAKER which opens up with a disturbing image of a young boy in a casket. Great, let me grab all the tissues.

Horrifyingly heartbreaking… This little diddy will make you feel all the emotions.

Most recently screened at Panic Fest, THE DOLLMAKER aims to pretty much take your all your feelings, step all over them, and throw them to the wolves. The nearly ten-minute creepy-as-hell horror short focuses on a parent’s worst nightmare- the death of their child. As a parent myself, I can’t fathom that sort of grief. But what I can see is how a parent’s struggle with coping can quickly descend into sheer madness, making rash decisions based on emotion. Well, bring on the heart-breaking cautionary tale of what ends of the Earth a parent will go to make that horrible pain go away.

The mother of said deceased child visits a man only known as a dollmaker in the hopes of easing this burden. The man asks the mother for a personal item from her son and creates a rather chilling rag doll that serves as a vessel for the child’s spirit. The grieving mom complies and upon holding the little button-eyed nightmare, POOF!  Her son is alive and well in her arms. Just like with any other purchase in life, the skeevie-induced stuffed plaything comes with an instruction manual, and most importantly a warning. The dollmaker firmly advises to limit the time spent with the doll to an hour a day, or suffer some fairly heavy delusional madness. Fair enough, doesn’t sound any worse than the side-effect warnings from those ray-of-sunshine pharma commercials!  The father is a little skeptical on the whole situation, however, goes along with it for the sake of his wife. Of course, much like the beloved tale of PET SEMATARY, attempting to outsmart death has grave consequences.

Written by Matias Caruso and starring Perri Lauren, Sean Meehan, and Dan Berkey, THE DOLLMAKER is a brilliantly performed and visually pleasing picture from the horror short circuit. This little diddy will make you feel all the emotions. Horrifyingly heartbreaking while successfully delivering plenty of goosebumps, be on the lookout for this one folks. It’s not to be missed!

Patti Pauley
Lover and rambler of everything in the horror genre, from the present to essentially anything concerning retro horror goodness and vintage Halloween. Patti is an active member of the horror community, writing for several websites over the years, including her own. Count Chocula serves as her Kryptonite.