Stars: Amy Crowdis, Robin Lord Taylor, Josh Caras, Geneva Carr, Shirley Knight, David Pirrie | Written and Directed by Alejandro Daniel Calvo
When her overbearing mother dies, young Melanie (Amy Crowdis) is understandably torn by grief. To cope with her loss, she does what any teenager would do – craft a life-size doll to fill the void. Not only does her doll keep her company, but she also communicates with her. Yeah, Melanie is a little bit off, but she’s not harming anyone right? Things get a little better for Melanie when Dukken (Robin Lord Taylor), a poor man’s mishmash of Pete Wetnz and Billy Joe Armstrong, stumbles in to her life when he asks her to help him find a book on Nietzsche in their local library. The pair begin to forge a relationship based on their obsession with the macabre and just how unique and on the fringe of society they are, much to the distaste of Dolly Dearest. With all of this going on, Melanie begins to become even more unhinged and it leads her to do something dreadful.
I’m sorry. I didn’t realise I had been transported back to 2006.
If you have fond memories of Myspace and the whole “woe is me” emo trend of the time, you’re going to love this film. A part from being filled to the brim with cliche’s, there’s really nothing to Doll in the Dark (aka The Melancholy Fantastic). Our main character Melanie is an unrelatable and unlikeable moody teenager who you should at least feel something for, but you don’t. Dukken is a walking cliché who is again, an intolerable goof. Everyone else is just exists. Don’t even get me started on the doll, although being the star of the show, its presence is more comical than anything else. Let’s just say Pin and Slappy the Dummy don’t have to worry any time soon. I won’t spoil the final third because I’m not an arse, plus you see it coming a mile off.
Yeah, can you tell I wasn’t a fan? I hate to be completely negative when it comes to film. I always try and look for positives and there are aspects of this film that did work for me. Aside from the story and characters, this is well made film to say the least.
I said before that the doll was the star of the show. I take it back. It’s the setting. I have always loved the idea of these small towns in America that are surrounded by wilderness, especially when you imagine them in Autumn and Winter. Being set around Christmas time, the setting is wonderful to behold. It’s a beautiful muted palette with spurts of bright Christmas neon, but you can’t help but feel the isolation, which I suppose works with the Melanie character. The stark scenery is captured wonderfully on camera with some very solid cinematography indeed. It’s all in all a well made film, but as William Morris once said:
“Nothing useless can be truly beautiful”
The film itself ends with a quote so I’m going to do the same here… Doll in the Dark is available now from Safecracker Pictures.