Robert the Doll (2015) **
D: Andrew Jones
C: Megan Lockhurst, Lee Bane, Flynn Allen, Judith Haley, Suzie Frances Garton, Cyd Casados, Samuel Hutchison, Annie Davis
Plot Synopsis: In this chilling story based on real life events a family experience terrifying supernatural occurrences when their son acquires a vintage doll called Robert
Review: Robert the Doll tries to engage viewers in a mystery type scenario, but makes the foolish mistake of answering its own questions before the film has even begun. In it, we witness a broken home. Mom struggles with wanting to have a career vs being assigned the domestic housewife role. Dad works late hours so that he can avoid his family and any problems. Caught in the middle is their son. In the past, the maid was the son's support system, but after being fired for getting too old, the maid gifts the son with a doll.
Almost instantly, the son and doll form a friendship. However, weird occurrences begin to happen that escalate into violence. The question that looms is, is the son acting out? Is mom becoming mentally unraveled? Or, is the doll really alive and carrying out the son's fantasies?
All of those elements could've made for an intriguing mystery, but that ambiguity is squandered in favor of something more literal, more advertisement worthy. Before the opening sequence, a title card informs us that Robert the Doll is an actual real life doll that's considered to be one of the most haunted dolls in existence. Right there, they've already declared the doll as being haunted. As a result, the mystery elements are rendered useless since we already know Robert's alive. All that's left is for the characters to catch up to what the audience already knows.
If they hadn't provided clear cut answers as to whether the doll is alive or not, it would've made the doll far more creepier. After all, what a viewer imagines vs what they see is far more effective. If they had left the material open ended and let viewers guess as to if it's the mom's mental issues, if it's the son acting out or if the doll is alive, it would've provided for a far more thought provoking film experience. After all, the best art (or the best movies), ask viewers to bring their own thoughts to the proceedings, thus they become a part of the movie.
Sure, it's easier to create a trailer around Robert being alive. On the other hand, the people behind this are selling out what's a fairly involving story. It's a ploy so that they can say "before Chucky", "before Annabelle". While Robert might have existed before Chucky and before Annabelle, this movie is an attempt to cash in on their success. [PG-13] 90 minutes.
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