In “Island of the Dolls,” three couples are inexplicably drawn to the enigmatic allure of the eponymous island. This place is notorious for the multitude of dolls that wash ashore, meticulously collected by an aged religious zealot in a desperate bid to placate the spirit of a young girl.
Loosely inspired by the real-life Island of the Dolls (La Isla de las Muñecas) in Mexico, this UK production attempts to infuse the eerie essence of its source material. At the outset, the film displays promise with its unsettling opening sequences and skillful use of the remote setting, evoking vibes reminiscent of the classic ‘A Ghost Story for Christmas.’ Regrettably, the film’s potential falters as it introduces its trio of couples—a boyfriend and girlfriend, a brother and sister pair, and a duo of podcasters. The dialogue falls flat, and the characters lack depth, causing “Island of the Dolls” to lose momentum that it never quite recovers.
From there, memorable instances become sparse: a rather illogical double demise and the comedic mismatch of the brother-sister duo (Abi Casson Thompson’s sophisticated portrayal of the sister contrasts oddly with the actor’s portrayal of her more common brother). Yet, for those anticipating a satisfactory elucidation of the ghost girl’s presence or the hermit’s fixation on the dolls, disappointment awaits. Furthermore, the film miscalculates the viewer’s allegiance to the heroine. While she consistently lectures her boyfriend about gender dynamics, her partner comes across as easygoing and understanding, making her appear unreasonably domineering.
“Island of the Dolls” takes a direct-to-YouTube route for UK audiences, and can be viewed at m.youtube.com/watch?v=D8P5by9dvrw. Despite its intriguing premise and initial promise, the film fails to capitalize on its potential, ultimately missing the mark.