The Haunted Doll’s House (2012)

The Haunted Dolls House A

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 star Steven Dolton as Mr. Dillet. Made on a 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 the classic story whilst capturing the unsettling quality of the authors work. It is a labour of love, like so many independently made short films and thoroughly rewarding.

Stephen Gray conjures up a 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.

The Haunted Dolls House B

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 Dolls House C

Under normal circumstances I would embed the video in question in to the post but The Haunted Doll’s House is intended for short film festivals in 2013 and the director therefore wants to control its availability for the present. Therefore I would urge you to visit Stephen Gray’s website to view this enjoyable short film and avail yourself of the wealth of information there regarding the great M.R. James. As mentioned earlier, his previous adaptations of The Wailing Well and Rats are available on You Tube.

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