Playing With Dolls (2015)

So, let me tell you what I spent my evening doing. There were two things: I watched Playing With Dolls and washed my dog. To give you a clear picture, I should explain that my dog apparently rolled in something that died on one of the hottest days of the summer, and does not like being washed.

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Guess which one I enjoyed more.

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Let’s get this over with. Playing With Dolls is terrible. The plot is a nonsensical excuse to see how many creative ways the film can find to sexually humiliate the protagonist, the dialog is laughable, and the camera work manages to make a dynamic, snowy forest look flat and boring. I’m tempted to give the costume department a break, except that it refused to dress the main protagonist in anything but sexy lounge-wear disguised as everyday clothing – the male gaze has never been more apparent or disgusting.

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On a separate note, I watched an actor vomit while wearing a slasher mask. That is an actual scene that exists.

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Sadly, Playing With Dolls actually has a few interesting grains hidden beneath the slush of its overwhelming absurdity that might have actually made it a decent story, if they’d been explored at all. The desperation of poverty (which is a theme this year), casual and not so casual racism, and the human cost of dealing with extreme isolation. The fact that the protagonist ends almost every night hugging a bottle of vodka seems less funny and more sad the longer the film goes on. Natasha Blasick plays Cindy with more nuance and subtlety than the film knows what to do with. Her character could have been interesting, but that would require the film to actually make an effort to treat her as a person and not a blowup doll.

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Oddly enough, the trailer for Playing With Dolls actually makes the film look good. Whoever did the editing for that deserves a pay raise for making this movie look watchable. Do not be fooled. I watched this so you do not have to.

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