Horrortoberfest 2019 – Day 14 – Heidi (2017)

Ending the creepy doll week with a movie that is also in the found footage style. If it weren’t for this holiday tradition, I don’t think there is any way I would normally watch anything that was a found footage creepy doll movie since that is two strikes against it, right off the bat. The movie even starts with a Neil Gaiman quote and, from experience, horror movies that start with quotes are usually trash. All that being said, the movie didn’t turn out half as bad as I initially thought it would. Quick content warning for anyone that is following along and watching these as well: the dog dies and you see its body. So anyone that gets uncomfortable with animal stuff, know that is in here.

The movie follows Ryan, a would-be YouTube prankster, and his buddy Jack, his partner in being an atrocious little shit. Ryan gets a job bird sitting for an elderly neighbor and Jack discovers an attic full of old stuff, including the titular doll. Once they find the doll, all manner of shit starts happening. The elderly woman gets killed. The doll keeps randomly showing up in both of their houses. They blame each other because of the whole prank show thing which just goes to show, don’t ever do YouTube “pranks” because it is an indicator that you are the worst. The sightings and death begin to escalate and the police start to suspect that maybe Ryan or Jack had someone thing to do with it. You know. Because of the pranks. It’s really a pretty standard “creepy doll takes a really long time to get to the point where it stops fucking with the protagonist and kills them” movie.

The found footage style is definitely not one that I like for a lot of films that use it because it almost never fits that characters would be filming during certain scenes or at all. I feel like Heidi does a decent enough job once the spooky stuff starts of having there be a reason for not just cameras to be used but multiple cameras at different angles. That makes it less painful to watch than a single camera style found footage where the person with the camera has to keep turning it back around on themselves and shooting everything even when running and freaking out. It also uses the “image tearing” to indicate that spooky doll is nearby and bad things are going to happen; which is both mildly derivative but also takes the place of the “violin sting” that you might get in a standard horror film.

The movie definitely tends to drag on a bit in the first half of the film. It takes over 30 minutes for them to even find the doll which means you have to spend that time learning all about Ryan’s prank show, “Boo Ya”. Once things start to get going it still wouldn’t be what I would call a fast paced film but at least there is some effort put into the effects. Unlike Mandy the Haunted Doll, here we actually get to see the doll moving on its own in several creepy shots that make the menace more palpable. Spoilers: The end of the movie gives you a neat final pay-off that none of the other creepy doll movies have done this week. We see the “true form” of Heidi, or rather what’s possessing the doll. Getting a blurry, slow shot of a grotesque, smiling monster creeping into view is actually super great.

Score: I’d give it a 2.5 out of 5. It’s not bad but neither is it particularly good and it definitely could have been much shorter. Also, loses a half point for including someone calling herself a g*psy psychic. Stop that.

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