It is a mathematical fact that if you add creepy children into any film you increase the fear factor by at least 50 percent. Perhaps it’s the idea of pure innocence corrupted by ultimate evil, maybe it’s our deep rooted terror of being replaced by the younger generation, hell maybe its just their high pitched voices and ability to hide in tiny places. But if it’s a kid that’s doing the killing, the horror seems all the more horrible.
From The Omen to The Exorcist, Children of the Corn to the Village of the Damned and most recently the underrated, better than it looked, Renée Zellweger vehicle Case 39, movie makers have been using minors as monsters to momentous effect for many, many moons.
Now on DVD, ‘Dorothy Mills’ is the latest name to add to that long list in a teen terrors and terrifying tots.
Dublin psychiatrist Jane Morton (Carice van Houten) is given the strange case of Dorothy Mills (Jenn Murray), a teenage girl from a small rural village who attempted to murder the baby she was left to care for while the parents where away.
Traveling to the isolated hamlet, Jane discovers a strange, sinister community dominated by religion and superstition and riddled with dark secrets. As the seemingly shy and naive Dorothy swears she is innocent, Jane gets caught between helping her charge and keeping the vengeful community at bay.
Haunted by a mysterious gang of youths and the guilt of her son’s death, things take a twisted turn for Jane. During one session of analysis Dorothy starts speaking in a strange voice claiming to be another person.
Is she possessed by the devil or is she the victim of multiple personality disorder and can Jane discover the truth before its too late?
French director and co-writer Agnès Merlet builds a tense, menacing movie, drawing inspiration from a variety of sources. The pastoral setting and insular oddballs that inhabit it obviously evoke The Wicker Man, and the film borrows broadly in tone and plot from this Brit horror classic, but with the added elements of psychology and schizophrenia thrown in.
Although the idea of a multiple personalities and possession have been dealt with in many other films (The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Shelter, Mr. Brooks to name a few recent examples), this conflict of science and religion gives the movie a thematic core. The perpetual pendulum swing between a solid answer to Dorothy’s strange and scary behavior keeps the audience on edge to the final frame.
At the center of this horror thriller is a brilliant performance from Jenn Murray, a new comer with a lot of potential. She plays every side of Dorothy’s split psyche with confident conviction. The supporting cast are also solid, especially Gary Lewis (most famous for playing Billy Elliot’s dad) as the autocratic Pastor Ross, and sympathetic van Houten last seen alongside the Cruiser in Valkyrie.
Slightly unoriginal in places, Dorothy does feel at times like a hodgepodge of other horrors. However it is fundamentally a solid thriller helped by an excellent performance from a rising star.
As stated at the start of this review, kids in horror always work and Dorothy is one adolescent aberration anyone would hate to have to babysit.