The Haunted Doll's House (2012)
The Haunted Doll's House is based on the short story by M.R. James and tells the tale of a ghostly antique. Adapted by Stephen Gray, who has made several other short films based upon James' work, it stars Steven Dolton as Mr. Dillet. Made on an extremely modest budget over the course of 2012 this clever, innovative and rather sinister adaptation is a fine example of short film creativity. It manages to offer a unique visual depiction of M.R. James’ classic story whilst capturing the unsettling quality of the authors work. Like so many independently made short films it is clearly a labour of love and thoroughly rewarding.
Stephen Gray conjures up an interesting period atmosphere as he sets the scene for the ghostly events. Professional antique collector Mr. Dillet seems most pleased with his latest acquisition and sits late into the night cataloguing its contents. Yet these seem to change in an odd manner as he proceeds. Perhaps he is overly tired? However he is woken during the night as a strange light illuminates the Doll's House. It would appear that it has something to show him and a rather disturbing story plays out among the antiques occupants, consisting of husband and wife, two children and a bedridden Grandfather.
It is the director's use of stop motion animation that sells the story so well. The minimalist character design and lack of dialogue do not in any way hinder the narrative. The silent actions of the puppets not only clearly convey the story but embellish it with a great deal of atmosphere. It plays out like a sinister episode of Camberwick Green and I do not mean that in a derogatory manner but as the highest compliment. The transition from animation to live action is cleverly done and provides an appropriate codicil to the story. The Haunted Doll's House makes good use of its eleven minute running time and offers an ideal seasonal ghost story.
The Haunted Doll's House is fine example of the high quality independent short films that you can find online, if you take the time to search them out. I would urge you to visit Stephen Gray's website www.thin-ghost.org to view other examples of his work which are as equally creative and ghoulish. There is also a wealth of information there regarding the great M.R. James inncluding a comprehensive list of the various film and television adaptations of his work.