PLAYING WITH DOLLS: HAVOC
Director: Rene Perez
Year of release: 2017
Country of origin: USA
Running time: 76 minutes
DVD/Blu ray: Possibly Blu-Ray only (not realy sure but only German copies may be available though they have English language)
Tagline: "Meet the world's most brutal killer".
Also known as: Havoc: Playing with Death, Playing with Dolls 3 and Metalface 3
Casting the spotlight on the slasher genre
Story: Ignoring the cliff hanger ending from last time Havoc starts off with our killer up to his usual routine of chasing a hapless female victim around what on this occasion appears to be a system of underground caves. The private army employed to keep control of the situation mess up however while trying to recover the lunatic which results in the fiend stealing a set of keys and absconding into the wilderness.
The focus then switches to a domestic dispute being played out at the holiday home log cabin of bickering couple Sarah and Tim. We soon learn that Tim is making a stop at the cabin while travelling home from a work conference under the guise of making some quick repairs. Wife Sarah with a romantic evening in mind decides to surprise her spouse by making her way to the cabin herself ahead of Tim so that she can be there to greet him when he arrives. Beating Tim to the venue however is another woman Mia who is discovered to be embroiled in a passionate affair with the dastardly Tim. Both women are appalled to find out about the existence of the other, a situation which is made worse by Mia’s car breaking down leaving her stranded at the cabin. Tim finally shows up to be confronted by two angry women but when the escaped killer also decides to drop in the two female rivals find that they may have to work together if they are to survive.
Good points: *Unlike Bloodlust which though enjoyable was a bit of a rehash of the first film and also borrowed from films like Camp Dread this entry feels like it has more of it’s own identity. It has a different set up with the Watcher character though briefly mentioned being discarded with instead the more story driven drama of the love triangle at the cabin taking centre stage. I found this story interesting and was keen to see more as it developed. . The way it was written also kind of painted both women as victims having fallen foul of the manipulative and deceptive Tim so it left us with two likeable leads who both came across sympathetically.
*Following on from the tail end of the previous point the characters are good with duel final girls in Sarah and Mia both being strong leads we can root for. Them aside though the slimy Tim despite being very unpleasant is fun to watch as he tries to wriggle out of his wife’s accusations and then justify his actions. The handyman Bob is also solid support in a more limited role.
*The film isn’t great in terms of following on from number two as it ignores the ending to that one as I mentioned but it does have some small things going for it that do show some continuity. Firstly something that has been running through all the films and is continued here is the use of dolls by the killer to taunt his victims and also how he teases those he has restrained and captured with body parts taken from earlier kills. It would be nice if something of the killers past were revealed so that we could learn of the origins of his fixation with dolls but at least he has this facet to his personality.
Another tiny piece of continuity is how the killer appears to be a bit conflicted on occasion and seems sickened by what he is doing. I hope I’m correct in remembering that he actually was sick at one point perhaps in the second film so again its nice to see that continued to some extent here. It’s good he has this little bit of extra depth to him but at the same time it does leave us wanting to know a lot more about his past than is actually offered.
One final thing to note relating to continuity is how this franchise always casts the final girl as not being American instead speaking with a foreign European accent. Cindy from number one was confirmed to be from the Ukraine. We then had Stina from number two and though I can’t recall what country she was from I think it was somewhere in Scandinavia or Eastern Europe. Here in Havoc this is continued with one of the final girls Mia who herself sounds as if she would originate from outside America.
*I can’t comment too much on the gore effects as I own a German Blu-Ray (only way I could get a hard copy) which is likely cut. One thing I can say positively about this third entry however is that I noticed the picture quality was a lot better than what I’d experienced with the two previous films. On top of this the two earlier films included boring long winded sequences in which the final girl was dancing or prancing around for an extended period of time to music. . Thankfully perhaps due to the more drama driven narrative we aren’t subjected to that this time around.
Bad Points: *As mentioned a couple of times already Havoc completely ignores the ending of the second film so we are left with no clue as to what happens to Magnus who was last seen battling it out with the killer. Seeing that the killer is alive and well here I suppose we must assume that both Magnus and Stina were murdered but it would have been nice to have that confirmed either by seeing their bodies or at least having some mention of them verbally if they couldn’t get the actors back on board.
Mild spoiler: We also don’t learn what happens to the woman at the star of this film in the caves who manages to escape when the killer is distracted by the guard. Escaping as she did she could potentially expose the whole set up the Watcher has going on so surely some importance should have been placed on her recapture. As it is though we hear no more about her.
*There were some minor niggles I observed throughout the film such as how Bob didn’t notice foot prints in the snow when the killer sneaked in to damage the engine of Mia’s car.
It was also unrealistic that there didn’t seem to be any spare coats or blankets that Mia could have been given to enable her to go out and wait with Bob while he put snow chains on the vehicle. It can’t have been that cold for him to be out there working so it would have been more practical for Mia to have been given a blanket to wait with him than having to wait in the house awkwardly with Sarah given what they had just discovered about each other. On a similar note the killer certainly seemed to fare well outside in the cold temperatures staying out there exposed to the elements for a long time but showing no ill effects. He had gloves on and maybe a coat granted but you would think he would be more uncomfortable that he appeared given it was supposed to be near freezing conditions.
Lastly when Sarah runs outside near the end it’s supposed to be dark but it appears to be more like daylight or twilight so the lighting doesn’t really match up. It reminded me of a similar error in Wolf Creek though nowhere near as bad or noticeable as it was in that more mainstream film.
Verdict: This is probably the best of the trilogy I would say as it feels like a bit more thought and effort has been put in when it comes to the story which is much more character driven. The acting and characters has been a strong point for me throughout the franchise to be fair but here we also get some rather exciting sequences towards the end when all Hell begins to break loose. There are some minor issues and it could have done with following on better from where the last film ended but this is enjoyable stuff and hits the mark more often than not.
Bodycount (contains major spoilers):
1)Soldier #1: Rocks thrown at head and then slashed with knife in the chest.
2)Bob: Lower leg cut up and then finished off with a chainsaw.
3)Alicia: Stabbed in the eye with a screwdriver
4)Tim: Beaten to death with killers fists. (Can’t recall for sure but I think this may have been a bit of a weird death where it wasn’t clear 100% how he was killed or if he actually did die from the beating. Think he may just have disappeared afterward so presumably he was beaten to death).
5)Soldier #2: Shot in the stomach and chest by Mia with a handgun.
6)Soldier #3: Beheaded with a big knife.
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