Monday, February 17, 2014

Review: The Doll Master (2004)

The Doll Master (Review)
Jeong Yong-gi/Kim Yoo-Mi/2004
Where to Watch:
Netflix Streaming
Amazon Prime

"...more than a handful of genuinely skin-crawling images."

60 years ago, a doll maker created a doll as a gesture for a woman he loved; when that women was found dead, he was blamed and killed by vigilantes. Lost without its maker, the doll is said to be waiting by his grave for eternity...

Fast forward to the present, Hae-mi (Kim Yoo-Mi), a sculptor, and four others gather at a secluded museum, promised to have their image turned into dolls by a talented paraplegic doll maker. This act feels like House on Haunted Hill, where they brought into a large, spooky home by a charming host -- in this case, the museum's curator -- and each guess has an assigned room. Anyway, the story continues as odd things occur during the doll making process, like a photoshoot, and a mystery unravels. Everything feels right until the final 15 minutes or so, where The Doll Master becomes a mess -- the ending is predictable and disappointing.

The Doll Master is a horror/mystery film. The horror consists of mostly spooky images. Those afraid of vintage dolls will be most affected by the eerie visuals, there are more than a handful of genuinely skin-crawling images. I even thought they were creepy, and very intriguing. There are also some jump-scares, which work well thanks to the great suspense. It's a slow-burn horror film with a tense, spooky atmosphere, and I loved it. Despite being consistently filled with nightmarish visuals up to the end, the actual ending of the film, and I'm speaking of the narrative, is disappointing. The mystery is interesting, but some of the elements are blatantly obvious very early in the film.

I liked Kim Yoo-Mi as the lead -- the role isn't very demanding, but she's a charismatic lead with more than serviceable attributes. The rest of the cast is great, as well. The music isn't very memorable, but it blended nicely with the setting and genre. The film is shot nicely, the cinematography is just right, were every image is captured perfectly. Director Jeong Yong-gi does well in building an atmospheric horror film with scary visuals, but lacks the focus during the final act, as many contemporary horror films do. I watched the Amazon Prime stream, courtesy of Asian Crush, and the subtitles are more than competent, but they disappear during the final 5 or so minutes -- fortunately, by then, you should be able to easily piece together the story without the dialogue.

Overall, The Doll Master is a spooky, atmospheric horror-mystery film. The horror is there tenfold, especially for those that get the creeps from vintage dolls. The mystery, on the other hand, is a bit more predictable and by-the-books. I was only really disappointed by the ending, though. Otherwise, you're in for a real treat.

Score: 8/10
Parental Guide: Some strong violence and blood, including some brief images of gore.

No comments:

Post a Comment