Monday, 19 October 2015

Robert

"Robert" or "Robert The Doll" (2015, North Bank Entertainment, 4Digital Media, Independent Moving Pictures) is a British film about the real life doll who's story inspired the "Child's Play" series. The real doll is located in the Key West area of Florida in the USA, and I would probably say looking at an inanimate 'haunted' doll is going to be about 50 times more scary than watching this movie.

An annoying woman called Jenny (Suzie Frances Garton), who is more interested in painting than paying attention to her reclusive son, Gene (Flynn Allen), fires her aging housekeeper, Agatha (Judith Haley), because she is getting old. The disgruntled Agatha retorts by giving Gene a creepy looking doll called Robert and warning Gene that Robert will be his friend, as long as Gene doesn't upset him.

The doll then proceeds to go about making messes, spoiling Jenny's paintings and such until Jenny and her 'workaholic' husband, Paul (Lee Bane), are forced to pay attention. Jenny then seeks out Agatha's previous employers only to learn that Robert had also terrorised their household prior to them sacking Agatha.

So, it doesn't sound too bad, does it? But it is.The acting is as wooden as the doll itself. The problem I find with low budget British productions is they always wind up sounding like a badly made BBC show from the early 90s. Most of these were cheesy and charming. "Robert" is cheesy, but lacks any kind of charm. Our leading lady is so aggravating and whiney that I wanted the doll to just kill her and be done with it. And the on-screen relationship between Paul and Jenny was so disjointed and unbelievable. No wonder that kid was so reclusive! To be fair to Flynn Allen, he carries this whole film.

The doll used is creepy but also so closely resembles the Annabelle films that it makes the film look like a knock-off, which it isn't. The actual doll from the 'true' story is actually a lot creepier than the prop used on-screen.

The film is pretty low budget, so I wasn't expecting top-notch effects, but it is 2015 afterall. It could have been very effective to barely show the doll moving. Lots of films manage to make slight, simple, practical effects make a huge impact. This film, unfortunately, is not one of them. When the doll does move on-screen it is evident that it is being manoeuvred by hand (not in itself a bad thing), giving it a Muppet-like quality. When they do bother to show the doll in action, they show too much.

I have a high tolerance for bad horror, I even enjoy bad horror, but this tame effort surpasses the realms of bad-good. So, points for having a creepy prop and a good idea, but the finished product just doesn't deliver.

[Image: North Bank Entertainment]
 
Hani