Doll Parts (2011)
Written and Directed by Karen Lam
Doll Parts Facebook Page
Screening as part of the touring Viscera Film Festival. See it along with many other excellent films here in Boston on September 23 and 25 as part of a special All Things Horror Presents partner screening.
Vancouver filmmaker Karen Lam has produced a number of shorts over the years including The Cabinet, a film she wrote and directed. Her latest film Doll Parts works as a cautionary tale of sorts. Only, the warning might go out to all perverts, creeps, and serial killers cruising the highways in search of a next victim. The film puts a spin on the old adage that one should "never pick up a hitchiker". Or is it "never accept a ride from a stranger"? In this case, it's both as predator also becomes prey, and vice versa. Lam's layered tale is simple in execution. However, it's far from straightforward and raises a number of interesting questions.
After an unsuccessful day of victimizing, serial killer Edward (harmless looking David Lewis) picks up a young woman named Evangeline (Sarah Lind). Frustrated by nearly being duped earlier in the day, he takes out his aggression on the damaged woman. Little does he know the tables are about to be turned on him in an utterly savage manner.
Lam puts a spin on the familar terror on the highway formula explored by movies like The Hitcher and Freeway. In this case, the cat and mouse antics aren't so clear cut. Is Evangelina merely a potential victim? Or is she something far more nightmarish? Does Edward have the upper hand, or is Evangeline already aware of his insane capabilities? Doll Parts blurs the lines between protagonist and antagonist. There are no recognizable heros or villians, only the damage left in their wake.
On a technical level, Doll Parts excels. The cinematography by Harvey Larocque is crisp and dreamy. The special makeup effects by Win Liu are grisly. Lewis does a great job of reeling in his performance as a brutal killer, almost to the point where we first feel sympathy for him until his true nature is unleashed. Lind channels victim and monster quite effectively as the mysterious Evangeline. She first appears weak, not even a challenge for seething Edward. Before long, Lind switches gears to deliver a chilling climax.
Karen informs me that plans are in the works for a feature length version of the story. A more in depth look at each character before they meet at the horrific crossroads is certainly something worth exploring. While I'd prefer she keep outright explanations a little murky, she's got an impressive foundation to build upon. It's interesting that the film is set on the open road, because that's exactly what the film has ahead of it. Wide open, and full of wonderful possibilities.
One final note: The tagline is BRILLIANT!