Padraig Reynolds' supernatural horror "Worry Dolls" is the follow up to his 70's and 80's homage to slasher - grindhouse "Rites Of Spring". The film stars Christopher Wiehl, Kym Jackson, Tina Lifford, and Samantha Smith. "Worry Dolls" carry the same dark focus on things of the occult with this one, and the subject matter could not be more thrilling and creepy.
Synopsis: A detective investigates a series of voodoo related killings in deep dark Mississippi, but when he connects the murders with a previous case involving Guatemalan talismans he finds himself up against the clock to save his possessed daughter.
Padraig Reynolds keeps with the same visual and directing style that played out in rural community horror fashion in "Rites Of Spring". That whole small town lives with their super evil occult issues. "Worry Dolls" doesn't quite give as exciting and well developed story the way his debut feature gives, but it keeps with a familiar creepy cult, black magic motif. Except in this story the occult, supernatural is more developed and defined. With "Rites Of Spring" it was a more subtle hint to the Sowing Season with more pagan inspiration.
"Worry Dolls" is a wicked, and paranormal curse nightmare that gives good deadpan mixed with American Gothic flare. Unfortunately the suspense and energy is very low when it comes to getting the story off the ground. The emotion and atmosphere are their but the direction and character drama just never gets up there to meet this great, and chillingly good slice of occult horror. The cast give good performances, but compared to "Rites Of Spring", "Worry Dolls" feels more Charles Band than Ti West, not that that is a bad thing, just saying compared to films similar to "Worry Dolls" like "House Of The Devil" and "Nothing To Fear".
Now the special effects are beasts of another Hell! The blood splatter, and brutality was great, visceral slices of awesome. The opening scene honestly, I felt like I needed to go check to make sure no blood splashed on me. Great scene. I enjoyed all the horror scenes with the blunt, brutal deaths. Blood, blood, blood, every kill was crimson. The sound effects, and the musical score weren't as memorable as the special effects, but they do their job to keep the pace and attitude of "Worry Dolls" dark, and sinister. And the creature effects, although more like Haunted Attraction level artistry, created some freaky, evil faces.
Overall, "Worry Dolls" is a bit disappointing, especially when comparing it to Reynolds' first film, but does have some cool stuff happening throughout the film. You will find yourself wondering on to other things during the long character building scenes. Still just when you feel you drifted too far a brutal, blood staining event takes place and snaps you back into the depth of the horror in "Worry Dolls:" Definitely check this one out if you are keen to Padraig Reynolds style, I liked enough about the film based on concept and kills to wanna add it to my collection. But take note that the horror vibe doesn't really have full strength through the whole film, like the thrills, it comes and goes.