The Twisted Doll (Short)

THE TWISTED DOLL

THE SETUP

Firstly, I’d just like to say thank you to Writer/Director, Andrew de Burgh for allowing me early access to an online screener of his 8 minute, Horror/Mystery short “The Twisted Doll”. Through a mutual friend, Pooja (played by lovely Bollywood actress, Elisha Kriis) and Jack (Isaac Anderson) are paired, but all is not as convenient as it seems when hidden agendas come to the surface. The film also stars Raksha Colaco. It wasn’t all that long ago that I inquired about Burgh’s previous short film “Just One Drink”, but I wasn’t able to watch it at the time as it was busy doing the festival rounds. So with that in mind, I was surprised to get an email from Andrew about his self-described, Christopher Nolan (The Prestige) meets George Melies (A Trip To The Moon) inspired short, The Twisted Doll.

THE GOOD

I believe The Twisted Doll is Burgh’s fourth short film, but this is of course my first venture into his work. I was intrigued when he mentioned Nolan and Melies as influences for the film. I can only imagine he was talking about Nolan’s early Mystery/Thriller, “Following”. Which if memory serves me correct, he shot back in his days of university. The obviously matching black and white presentation is only part of it, I can see an air about the aforementioned film in terms of the way Pooja develops that relationship with her mark. George Melies was perhaps the first notable film maker of the 20th century, with some of his early silent films recognized as where the birth of cinema truly began. In a round about way Bluebeard came to mind while watching this one, though it may have just been the fact that both are silent films, I’m not sure. Being a silent film, the music and score are usually paramount. I was pleased to hear some heavy synth pumping through those opening minutes, very 70’s/80’s in style. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a sucker for the black and white format (when it’s done right and justified) and combining that with the element of silence is daring to say the least, especially in this day and age. Elisha has that seductive appeal about her, she’s an incredibly beautiful women. I like the subtleties in her facial expressions which timely suggest the things to come.

THE BAD

Initially the black and white production was enough to get me in but I wasn’t a huge fan of the cinematography style. There’s a number of shots that weren’t framed as well as they could have been (just a personal preference) and a more cinematic approach probably would have raised the production value. I noticed a line of dialogue between Pooja and Jack that didn’t make a lot of sense. She mentions something about a form of yoga and a Hindi god (I think it was?), to which he’s confused on the meaning of and replies with “I was up really early for work” or something along those lines, it was clunky. The climax of the short isn’t all that unexpected, and due to the absent dialogue audio (intended) I’m not sure it carries the desired weight.

The Twisted Doll definitely has an experimental appeal about it and that makes for a solid introduction to Andrew de Burgh as another up and coming filmmaker. I respect his boldness to name those artists that inspired the film (too many are worried about public perception) and I do like the additions of the black and white and silence. The music drove it and Pooja makes for a captivating protagonist. From a technical stand point I can’t fault the way the film was shot, but I’d have preferred some more diverse shot choices and omitting those odd angles. Andrew’s script is fairly straight forward, so without an audio track I don’t think it quite hits home as hard come the resolution. All that said, cinephiles will find plenty to like here and if you enjoy your mystery’s short and snappy, keep an eye out for this one soon! Check out the trailer below!

My rating for “The Twisted Doll” is 6.5/10

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