Let’s talk about revenge, ok? They say it is best served cold (some famous guy said that, at least). My interpretation of “cold” is a closed heart and a sterile environment, blue tones and bleak ambiance. I think of The Bride in Kill Bill or Lisbeth Salander in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I think Fincher or Wan. But director Heidi Moore’s version is a little different than that.
DOLLY DEADLY is truly a feast for the eyes. And I say feast literally because this film has some Harmony Korine-like gag inducing foodstuffs (ketchup spaghetti, anyone?). The hues, camera angles, sets, and cinematography are all insanely brilliant, nauseating, and frenzied (I almost wished to go colorblind by the finale). However, amongst the mania and gut busting humor lies a deep pathos, one of love, despair, and longing. Our protagonist Benji, an orphan since infancy, dearly misses his deceased mother and is a victim to his guardians - his trashy grandmother and her sugar baby boyfriend. His mother may have smoked cigarettes in front of him, drank her “mommy juice,” and fed him Doritos, but she loved him and loved their doll collection. As Benji grows, he becomes attached to the dolls, as they are his only connection to his lost mother and his only companions. He tap dances for his glass-eyed audience, baptizes their plastic sins away, and performs a grotesque, make believe magic show complete with top hat and a bloody Indian basket trick. But with this behavior comes hellish consequences from the rotten world he lives in. And everyone has a snapping point.
This film, amongst the grotesque and stunning imagery, also hits us with gut-wrenching social commentary of current times. The issues of bullying and gender roles are not nuanced, but exquisitely smashed in the narrative like birthday cake.