10 February 2014 | StevePulaski
Unnerving monotony on an incredibly unique genre
Black Devil Doll is a nasty little picture, one with no apparent moral compass and the desire to mix the elements and aesthetics of blaxploitation films of the 1970's while loosely following the premise of the Child's Play series and making a priority out of including numerous scenes of doll-on-human sexual intercourse.
The film is inspired by the 1984 film of the same name just with "from Hell" added to the end of the title so we know exactly where this absurd little character once resided. This film's director, Jonathan Louis Lewis, clearly has admiration and a love for the films of the blaxploitation genre, a genre which was largely responsible for hiring young and old black talent in the 1970's to headline such inane pictures as Blacula and Black Dynamite. Lewis, however, creates a film that, while easy to admire for its devotion to such a quirky chapter in cinema's history, is hard to watch and incredibly uncomfortable to sit through, even in its barely-cinematic state of sixty-three minutes.
The main issue is with the approach Lewis chooses to take, which is seemingly to cater to the people who love to watch two foot tall wooden dolls have sex with full-grown women, with the camera, of course, focused on their voluptuous figures. This gets tedious really quickly, especially when the film's one-note joke isn't overplayed but severely underplayed once its intentions become clear. The film is a horror film, like many blaxploitation films were, but it takes so long to build to its horror elements and scenes of violence and gore that we've already laughed so much to even be ready for the horror elements. When they come, it's the most awkward "oh yeah" moment, after we just watched a black puppet have hardcore sex with several different women.
The film's slender story involves Heather (Heather Murphy), a young teen with a bulging bust in a cleavage-bearing top, who is bored one day and decides to remedy her boredom by screwing about with an Ouija board. Heather's antics come back to bite her when the Ouija Board brings her doll to life in the form of a recently deceased serial killer who murdered fifteen Caucasian women before raping them. Now, Heather meets the "black devil doll," falls in love with it, has sex with it numerous times, and so forth.
The second act takes a wee bit of a darker turn, with Heather inviting numerous friends over for an afternoon of fun and drinks but not before the doll can violently assault and have sex with each one.
Films like Black Devil Doll take the very principles of what film criticism was erected off of and shred them so they're unrecognizable. How to rate a film like this effectively is a mystery to me. While the film technically does what it sets out to do, that doesn't mean I had a grand time watching it. The film is so bogged down in dirty-mindedness, gratuitous nudity, graphic, redundant scenes of puppet-on-human sex that do nothing but make one uncomfortable, and then gore and violence to conclude the picture that is tacked on in a way that makes it seem unsure of its own direction.
As stated, Lewis clearly has a fondness for old school horror and the blaxploitation genre. Because of that, I hope he chooses to exercise it again at a later date. This is a picture that would've worked as a short rather than a medium-length film. Better yet, it would've worked best as a daydream.
Starring: Heather Murphy. Voiced by: Martin Boone. Directed by: Jonathan Louis Lewis.