Sunday, 22 July 2012

Dorothy (2010)

Made in 2008 but not getting a UK release until two years later, here’s a modern EuroHorror that’s definitely deserving of wider exposure and more love than it seems to have got so far. Also going by the alternate title of DOROTHY MILLS in other territories (I've put up the Spanish  poster as it's a bit more interesting that the UK one), DOROTHY is a French-Irish coproduction. It’s also a lovely slow burner of a horror picture that boasts a complex plot very well told, some splendid performances, and a delicious atmosphere of rain-drenched gloom in an authentic-feeling isolated country community.
Dublin psychiatrist Jane van Dopp (Carice van Houten) travels to a remote island to make a clinical assessment of Dorothy Mills (Jenn Murray), a teenager who, while babysitting, allegedly ended up trying to strangle her tiny charge. From the outset strange things happen. Jane is run off the road by a car chase and ends up in the river, her car a right off and the viewer wondering if we’re perhaps going to be treated to a modern version of CARNIVAL OF SOULS. I don’t think I’m giving anything away by saying that’s not exactly how things pan out but once Jane meets Dorothy, who seems to suffer from a really quite scary variant of Multiple Personality Disorder, the plot thickens and with the island community hostile and obviously involved in some weird cult that involves using Dorothy as a conduit to talk to the dead it’s pretty clear that things are going to end badly. I haven’t even mentioned that Jane is in mourning following the accidental death by drowning of her young son, or that someone (or something) on the island is vandalising property and murdering livestock with a very specific purpose in mind.
I won’t reveal much more because this really is one of those films that’s a delight to discover without knowing too much about it. What I will say is that as the film went on I became more and more intrigued, with the result that I really didn’t know what was going to happen from one minute to the next, and I certainly didn’t see any of the extremely satisfying ending coming. Reviews on the internet have compared this to THE EXORCIST (it isn’t) and THE WICKER MAN (there’s the isolated community with a secret but there all similarities end). With a superb sense of rural grimness DOROTHY does a fine job of telling an involved story without ever becoming confusing, and hats off to director Agnes Merlet for keeping everything on track. I must confess I hadn’t previously heard of any of the personnel involved with this film except for Gary Lewis who plays the priest-cum-doctor in charge of the community (he was in VALHALLA RISING), van Houten (who was in INTRUDERS, also reviewed on this site) and Rynagh O’Grady who played the wife who was always trying to kill her husband in FATHER TED. Merlet’s follow up picture was called HIDEAWAYS and has yet to have a UK release but I may well catch it when it does.