Reviewer grade: B+
When you see that the Universal Pictures logo that opens this movie is the version that was used in the early Thirties, you'll know that this isn't going to be another torture-porn hunk of splatterpunk. When a young man's wife is killed, apparently by a dead ventriloquist's aging dummy, he returns to his hometown to investigate the legend of a woman who went a little funny in the head 50 years ago and was buried with all 100 of her dolls.
Director James Wan and writer Leigh Whannell ("Saw") have gone retro with their creepy version of the perhaps too-familiar living-dummy yarn. There's not all that much gore, with the filmmakers relying more on Gothic atmosphere and the aversion many people have to dolls that seem to have a life of their own. I like this kind of thing, but I prefer to chills to visceral shocks. R
" Doug Bentin