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Dollhouse Review: This Slamdance Darling is a Total Dud

Dollhouse: The Eradication of Female Subjectivity from American Popular Culture. Yes, it's a long title, but documentaries have long titles, and I enjoy those, so this may be good in the same way. Despite it being a very indie mockumentary about a child star staged only with dolls (yes, like Barbie dolls) and not a documentary, it garnered high praise from its debut at last year's Slamdance festival winning both the grand jury prize and the spirit of Slamdance award.

Dollhouse Review: This Slamdance Darling is a Total Dud
Dollhouse movie poster

I did give the film a chance but quickly regretted devoting an hour and fifteen minutes of my life to watching this. Not only is the production value on par with that of an 11-year-old child playing with their toys on YouTube in hopes of becoming internet famous, but the story is cliche, boring, and entirely not funny. Satire is supposed to be amusing, witty, and have a point – instead, I got a bizarre music video featuring what's supposed to be a doll masturbating with a spoon and voice-over interviews with dolls.

Now, you may be thinking, "Eden, you just don't get indie films – this is art," and yes, art is subjective. You may find this hilarious and have the complete opposite thoughts as me. I happen to find this subjectively creepy beyond belief. This is entirely my opinion, and I happen to be altogether not into this, despite all of Slamdance apparently liking it. However, one thing that is not subjective is being insensitive, offensive, and entirely hateful to the trans community. There's a whole section of the film that makes some hateful and transphobic remarks, and I'd like to take a moment to say that is not art; it's offensive and not okay, even for the sake of art and making a point (which this film did not do).

Dollhouse movie still
Dollhouse movie still

It's edgy for the sake of being "shocking," and I'm simply left wondering what the point to all of this is. It resembles an episode of A&E's Where Are They Now  (likely one on Lindsay Lohan or Britney Spears) with the names and stories changed around a bit and staged with dolls. This movie makes me long for the production value and humor in an episode of Robot Chicken, and I would rather watch a blank wall than subject myself to Robot Chicken's humor and style.

Dollhouse movie still
Dollhouse movie still

When making a mockumentary, it's important to imbibe the story and characters with humor. This was not a mockumentary; it is hate speech that plagiarizes real-life masquerading as art. The story failed to make any statement on female subjectivity, nor did it delve into anything of substance or note. If I could pull a George Lucas and track down and burn every single copy of this so it can't dupe anyone else with its interesting sounding title, I would. I am entirely vexed as to how it has a score of 5.8 on IMDB.

Long review short: my new policy is to just say no to anything Slamdance endorses if this is the kind of film they're praising. If this is your jam, okay – but I would urge you to watch it critically and take a look at what you enjoy about it. I personally did not enjoy this at all and think it crosses the line between art and offense just for the sake of turning heads.

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Eden ArnoldAbout Eden Arnold

Having spent far too much time in front of the television growing up, Eden has lots of opinions about television (as well as movies and everything else). She puts this to good use along with her journalism degree and writing experience with by-lines over the years in many print publications, books, and online media outlets. You can find her on Twitter at @Edenhasopinions
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