This movie ends up being a little of both types of the fairy tale horror types we’ve seen so far; retelling and reference. Pinocchio’s Revenge follows Jennifer Garrick, a defense attorney raising a little girl alone after a divorce. She is defending Vincent Gotto, a woodworker found burying his son in the woods along with a large puppet. After the man is found guilty and executed, the doll is found by her daughter Zoe and thinks it is a birthday present. The arrival of the doll starts up a series of events that end in death and horror for the family.
Now that that synopsis is out of the way, let me just talk a bit about some of the interesting things they did with the story and how it works in the movie. The entire movie is about the uncertainty of whether the doll is actually alive and trying to hurt people or the daughter is somehow going crazy. There is a wonderful scene where Jennifer is talking to a client that murdered someone that says that the television told him to do it that is juxtaposed with the daughter talking to the puppet. I love making the normally innocent childlike play of having a pretend conversation with a doll or stuffed animal be likened to something like the Son of Sam being told to kill by his neighbor’s dog. The movie also plays with that parental desire to never see the worst in your child, like the parent that thinks that the teachers must have it in for their precious angel rather than the kid actually doing anything wrong.
A couple amusing things though include Mother of the Year for even letting your child think that evidence in a murder case is a birthday present. I don’t care how guilty you feel, if you’re an attorney you don’t just go, “Oh well, I’ll let her hang on to this evidence for a couple days. Where’s the harm in that?” Also, speaking of mothers, I hadn’t really noticed until this point just how much fairy tale stories seem to be all about the mother issues. Both the classic ones and the ones I’ve reviewed so far are all about dead mothers or absent mothers or evil step mothers and so on.
The movie takes a while to really get going, with the first third just setting up for the puppet being in the house and the second third just being Zoe getting super attached to it. Though the horror in this is less the murder and more the insanity and implication of the innocent being evil. I have to give it to the little girl in this since she manages to be able to act fairly well without the movie resorting to “creepy little girl” syndrome. There isn’t a scene where she stands there and spouts ominous monotone things or acts over-the-top crazy. I can’t say how nice it is to have a movie that deals with something like a child being evil and it doesn’t try to force that creepy child sing-song, “come play with us” stuff.
Overall, for a movie called Pinocchio’s Revenge, this was actually surprising well done. Not exactly a classic but it was very surprising they went the “psychological ambiguity of evil route” and not the “evil doll kills people” route. Also this movie gets points for having the puppet watching the nanny get out of the shower and making me chortle and quietly think “hehehe. He has wood.” because I am apparently 12. I give this movie a 3 out of 5.