‘Dollhouse’ (2012): more like ‘DULLhouse’ amirite!?

11 Dec

Dollhouse movie poster“An experimental Irish indie film set entirely in an upper-class posh Dublin condo”. If this phrase in any way disturbs you (and frankly, it doesn’t sound overly enthralling), then congratulations, you’re sane. Irish indie cinema has been getting quite a bad rap lately; can ‘Dollhouse’ change this?

When a bunch of working class (definitely Northside) Dublin teenagers break into a plush suburban home, they discover it’s the former home of Kerslake, a well-to-do girl who we find out ran away from home the year beforehand. As a night of drug and alcohol-fuelled debauchery unfolds, it becomes evident she is hiding another secret.

This is a bizarre film, and I’m not entirely sure to what degree I dislike it. I’m constantly wavering between “I didn’t quite get it, so perhaps I shouldn’t complain about it too much” to “this film was horrendous”. Nah, I’m gonna roll with the “I hated it” line. I spent the majority of the screening scratching my head (figuratively, of course), because it simply does not make sense.

Why do the characters invade some poor lottery winner’s gaff? To party of course, but even running with that simple reason as the only explanation for the events which unfold in this disaster, it’s simply not enough. Ambiguity in movies is fine, in fact often necessary. But only if it remains within the context of reality; the characters here lack all forms of basic human logic. Even with the copious amount of narcotics ingested in this film, the kids are borderline inhuman in their actions.

After ‘Charlie Casanova’, it seemed Irish cinema had hit a low – that travesty somehow managed to effortlessly limbo under the bar previously set by ‘Shrooms’. Now, thanks to Sheridan’s latest feature, it’s got some company at the bottom of the barrel. ‘Dollhouse’ actually does contain a certain amount of professionalism, from a purely cinematographic viewpoint. The acting is great, with the promising young performers convincing us of their disadvantaged, inner-city slumville backgrounds. The camera work is slightly above average for an Irish feature.

The major problems lie with Sheridan’s script. There’s really no story here so unless you enjoy watching unlikable, unrelatable aliens disguised as teens smash up a home and shout insults at one another, there’s nothing to engage you. The lack of clarity for the dialogue, storyline, hell for anything in this movie renders it a remarkably dull experience.  The twist at the end was indeed a surprise, but packed no emotional punch whatsoever. I came out of the Screen cinema flabbergasted that the film is ‘only’ 95 minutes long; I could’ve sworn I’d wasted hours watching this mess.

‘Dollhouse’ is a strangely detestable film and yet another national embarrassment for us Irish cinema lovers. Had director Sheridan not been the daughter of none other than acclaimed Irish film-maker Jim, I highly doubt this garbage would ever have seen the light of day. Hopefully these decent teenage actors will resurface in something a little less horrifying.

Simon says: just play with an actual doll house instead, far more fun.

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One Response to “‘Dollhouse’ (2012): more like ‘DULLhouse’ amirite!?”

  1. bankholidaytuesday December 18, 2012 at 3:46 pm #

    I don’t know what it is about Irish film that makes it so dark and ponderous. I really want people to realise it isn’t arty. I think everyone’s trying to ‘do a Roddy’ and have working class northside characters but the films of Doyles books worked so well because they were harsh and foul mouthed but they had a heart.

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