Wednesday, January 7, 2015

SyFy vs. The Mynd: Finders Keepers (2014)

Following the separation from her husband Jonathan (Patrick Muldoon), writer Alyson Simon (Jaime Pressly) and her little daughter Claire (Kylie Rogers) move into a surprisingly cheap house in what I assume to be one of these archetypal US small towns. Not surprisingly, there’s a rather violent reason for the new home’s excellent price, and it hasn’t got anything to do with home foreclosures.

Barely moved in Claire finds one of the most hideous dolls ever created by human hands (or is it?) hidden away in her room. The doll quickly becomes the girl’s only friend, but it’s a rather bad influence on her. Before you can even say dollmonic possession, Claire starts ripping off fly wings, cats are skinned, and various people are killed in various silly ways. This being a SyFy movie and all, Alyson will have to team up with Jonathan - as well as her very useful expositional anthropologist professor friend Elena Carranza (Justina Machado) - to set things straight again.

Because some things are just naturally creepy, it’s really difficult to mess up a horror film about a creepy doll, particularly when the film in question also uses the that other mainstay of utter creepiness, children. Consequently, Alexander Yellen’s Finders Keepers is watchable and mostly entertaining throughout.

Alas, it is also little more, for in the tradition of the mediocre third of SyFy originals (the other thirds are of course the genuinely good ones, and the atrocious ones, respectively), there’s not just a decided lack of originality on display but also a somewhat sad unwillingness – or maybe a lack of ability – to use the standard elements the film is built on to their full potential. So you have a film that first brings up a plot point where Claire’s psychiatrist (a very sleepy Tobin Bell who doesn’t look or sound like he actually wanted to be on set, or get up in the morning) has to think Alyson is abusing her daughter thanks to evil doll machinations but then doesn’t do anything worthwhile with it, never daring to actually dive into the combined anxieties surrounding child abuse and the horror it would be to be innocently thought to abuse one’s child. Instead of going this more subtle and potentially disturbing way, the film’s horror becomes increasingly silly, until Claire (not the most convincing creepy kid even in her best scenes) is plucking out eyeballs and setting anthropologists on fire. On the positive side, the film certainly doesn’t drag its feet or ever stays still long enough to bore, eyeballs are plucked out, and anthropologists are set on fire.

No comments: