PLAYING WITH DOLLS 2: BLOODLUST
Director: Rene Perez
Year of release: 2016
Country of origin: USA
Running time: 79 minutes
DVD/Blu ray: Both
Tagline: "He really wants to play with you" and "They made him do it".
Also known as: Playing with dolls (Incorrect UK title) Bloodlust: Playing with Dolls
Casting the spotlight on the slasher genre
Story: Firstly, before going into the story I’ll address some confusion regarding the UK release of this film. This sequel can be found cheaply on mainstream sites like eBay and amazon as well as on the shelves of HMV under the incorrectly packaged name of Playing with Dolls. With that title you would of course assume you were buying the first film in the franchise, but it actually turns out to be the second and middle film in the series which is what I’ll be looking at here. So here in the UK we can thank the good people at Miracle Media for making a botch job of things and being misleading with the packaging. It was partucurly annoying in my case as I bought what I thought was all three films in the franchise before watching them so I ended up with two copies of this sequel (also bought an expensive cut German blu ray which at the time I thought was the only way you could get this one). Incidentally if you actually want a copy of the original you’ll have to buy a US copy under its alternative Metalface name which is what I had to do in the end to complete the trilogy.
Anyway to give you a rundown of things here the plot is built around two struggling single parents, one a young Mother and the other a Father and former soldier who are lured into appearing on a reality show. Along with two other contestants they must stay in a large cabin in isolated woodland for a week, the entire time being targeted by a “slasher”. Supposedly this “slasher is an actor trying to scare and capture them which will result in their elimination from the show with the sole survivor said to earn $1 million. All the action is being captured by cameras controlled by the projects organiser simply known as the Watcher. This Watcher however turns out to be a sick individual who has in fact unleashed a real murderer to kill the contestants for his own sick voyeuristic pleasure.
Good points: The cast from start to finish all do a very solid job with the two leads the former soldier Magnus and the struggling Mother Stina in particular both standing out. Though there is a bit more focus on Stina this pair combine to make up a sort of final boy and girl double act in parts which works pretty well. Magnus especially is a likeable fellow and someone I found I missed during the part of the film where he is off camera for a while. The fact that they are not really motivated by greed but rather than trying to provide for their respective children also makes this pair more relatable and easier to root for. In addition, the other female contestant Nico is a tonne of fun and the Watcher suitably slimy and creepy.
The gore on a handful of occasions is very good in particular with the attack on the young woman at the start. There is a strong part as well later involving the male contestant Rodrigo. It does threaten to move into torture porn territory once or twice but never fully goes down that path. Throughout most of the film I’d actually say the gore is underplayed but is amped up nicely at key moments.
The killer looks really good, certainly imposing and menacing throwing up comparisons to a Jason Vorhees type figure. The mask has a lot going on and is perhaps a bit too busy but it does provide a nice look for the killer with the rest of the clothes matching well enough not to be a problem. Ordinarily for a review I would mention the killers look as a positive or negative in my review of the first film and then not mention it again unless the look changes. Due to the mix up with the incorrectly labeled DVD I mentioned at the outset however I watched this film first so in this case this proved to be my first exposure to the character.
Bad Points: By far the worst thing about this is the ending as there is no proper conclusion. Things end very abruptly during the middle of a fight sequence. This wouldn’t be so bad if the next film picked up seamlessly from where this one left off but this doesn’t prove to be the case with the next film Havoc. To leave things unfinished as they do here is very disappointing and leaves us with a negative feeling going out of the film and a bit cheated in a similar way to something like Munger Road/The Wrong Road.
At one point the contestants find some documents which they claim to be clues. From the way they are talking it seems like the files would contain information on the killer’s backstory. Thinking it is all made up and the guy is just an actor they don’t take it seriously and read it out for us to hear. I was hoping they would return to these papers later but unfortunately, they didn’t. In all three of the films they don’t provide much information about the history of the killer so it is shame they didn’t tackle that here and have someone review the notes again towards the end so we could learn more about the maniac. From the original we do hear that he is someone the Watcher has busted out of a South American prison but it would have been nice if they would have added to that here telling us what crimes he was originally incarcerated for.
Spoiler: The Nico death is very underwhelming and Is completely off camera. I was very surprised at this as she had a lot of screen time prior to this and was an important cog in the films appeal. She deserved a more memorable exit. There were also a couple of instances where it wasn’t revealed what the fate was of one or two of the characters. Not main characters, very minor ones in fact but along with the ending it gave things an unfinished feel. See the body count for specifics.
The film doesn’t look the best visually with the colours appearing a bit washed out. It doesn’t look very vibrant at all especially during the segments in the woods. It wasn’t as bad as something like the original Camp Blood but quite drab looking and not as colourful as I would have liked. Picture quality seemed much the same on the Blu-ray.
I didn’t realise it at the time but after since watching the original the end sequence of this second film with the private army and the shooting is very similar to the end of the first film and feels a bit rehashed.
Verdict: This for me was a reasonably entertaining little slasher film though which while nothing ground-breaking in terms of story being very similar to films like Camp Dread and Within the Woods it did more than hold my interest for the duration of the running time. Things are helped along by a likeable lead duo, some strong gore and a cool looking killer. The ending or lack of one does undo much of the good work and sours thing but I’d still say this is worth a look.
Bodycount (contains major spoilers):
1)Woman: Arm cut off and then face caved in with hatchet.
2)Woman #2: Hit on the head with baseball bat (cut away).
3)Rodrigo: Part of leg cut off and then spine ripped out.
4)Nico: Killed off camera in the bathroom, we just hear a bludgeoning noise.
5)Private army guy #1: Hit in the back of the head with a sledgehammer.
6)Private army guy #2: Shot in the foot by Magnus and then hit in the face with sledgehammer.
7)Private army guy #3: Shot by Magnus with pistol.
8)Private army guy #4: shot with Uzi by Stina.
9)Private army guy #5: shot by Uzi by Magnus.
We also see a woman tied to a tree who is being used as a plaything by the killer who is most likely killed but I don’t think we ever see a confirmation body. Can’t remember for sure but we may see another body tied to a tree later but I don’t think this looked to be the same girl I’ve just mentioned. Finally, the Watcher has a woman with him in the control room who he drugs and possibly kills but there is no confirmation of this. I decided not to count any of these mentioned here due to the uncertainty.
© Copyright 2017 The Slasher Spotlight. All rights reserved.