Strange Children and Haunted Dollhouses: Or, My Attempts to Figure Out What the Hell I Just Watched.
When I was a kid, I had a dollhouse that intrigued me with its detail. I only had sporadic moments of “girliness”, but I did rather enjoy finding tiny furniture for each of the rooms and setting them up. I tried to imagine what sort of little people (or beings) would live in the house (my sister and I also regularly watched a cartoon called The Littles) and what daily routines would carry them from room to room and compel them to utilize the tiny replicas of stoves, beds, tables, etc. That may all sound sound rather benign and typical of a prepubescent girl, but you must not forget I was also a weird kid with a taste for the morbid. As I got older, I would let my mind wander to fancies of the dollhouse coming alive with inhabitants that wouldn’t stay put (I never watched The Amityville Horror…this was from my own imagination). Fast-forward to adulthood when I read an M.R. James story that confirmed to me I wasn’t the only one to ever have “day-mares” of haunted dolls and dollhouses. Maybe it’s a sort of “god-complex” that one has creating a simulated environment in a dollhouse that also leads to the inevitable conclusion that we have no real control over our possessions; that even mere toys we create can turn on us.
On that pleasant note, today’s trailer seems to – I guess – explore the same themes as the James story and my own morbid childhood imagination. We see Toni Collette as a doll (and dollhouse?) maker who is trying to raise her very weird daughter while mourning the death of her mother. She seems to be recreating images from her own life in doll form, maybe as a way to maintain a clearly tenuous grip on her sanity. The movie’s title and a key line in the trailer make me wonder if the “hereditary” trait is madness or evil and if it’s something that grandmother, mother, and daughter all share. Or just the mother. Or just the daughter. No, it seems to be the mother. I honestly have no idea. Milly Shapiro plays the daughter and is a cute kid yet has an old face that’s clearly made up to be even more unsettling. That and her morose stare as she makes clicking noises with her tongue just adds to the uncanniness. My boyfriend and I watched the trailer as part of the previews shown before A Quiet Place, and we pretty much just looked at each other afterward like, “WTF?” Still, don’t let my bemusement turn you off from seeing the film. I won’t. An AV Club review is calling it a “traumatically terrifying horror movie”. I haven’t read the review yet, and I recommend you don’t either until you watch the movie, because kudos to horror movie trailers NOT giving away the whole plot for once.