Finders Keepers (2014)
Some words perfectly capture their meaning through their pronunciation. take for instance “ennui”. If you want to describe “a feeling of utter weariness and discontent resulting from satiety or lack of interest”, then the word “ennui” fits like OJ’s glove.
And I’ve felt this enough times to make me wonder if my ennui over many of the horror movies I watch skews the direction of the reviews. I suppose it’s an occupational hazard: when you’ve seen a thousand haunted house movies, or found footage movies, or exorcism movies, and you’re sitting there accurately predicting what’s gonna be said, or what telegraphed shocks are coming up, then you can’t help but reflect this in your words.
Which might be unfair on the efforts of the particular filmmakers, or their audiences, who might not have watched all the movies I have, and who might actually enjoy the movie I might be putting down.
Case in point: FINDERS KEEPERS, by Alexander Yellen, an experienced cinematographer on such epics as MEGA SHARK VS GIANT OCTOPUS, BLOOD LAKE: ATTACK OF THE KILLER LAMPREYS, NAZIS AT THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH and several episodes of Z NATION. He’s a professional, no matter what you might think about the actual content of his output, and it shows in this as it has in his previous work. Still, that old Ennui Imp is on my shoulder, whispering in my ear even now, “Seen it all before…”
It opens on a pair of cops investigate some suspicious goings on in a darkened house (is it standard procedure for police to enter a darkened house without maybe trying to turn on some lights?), finding bodies here and there, blood all over the place (or, as it’s also known, a typical night at Charlie Sheen’s place). One of the cops gets killed, and when his partner finds him, she also finds a boy with a doll, charging at her with a knife…
After the titles, we cut to divorced mother and writer Alyson Simon (Jaime Pressly, MY NAME IS EARL) moving into a new house with her daughter Claire (Kylie Rogers, SPACE STATION 76). It’s a huge creepy-looking house, way too big for just two people, so I’m hoping that Alyson got free chicken wings or something out of the deal. In the house, Claire finds a creepy old doll, intending to hold onto it despite her mother’s efforts (“Finders keepers,” the little moppet says, apropos of justifying the title).
As you can expect (you’d have to be a goldfish not to expect what’s coming), Claire begins to change, becoming sullen and brattish, and then violent whenever anyone suggests replacing the doll with another one, which seems to happen on a number of improbable occasions, such as when a diner waitress offers to give Claire a ‘pretty’ doll instead – who does that? – and later, the waitress, alone in the diner that night, is attacked with a knife by an unseen foe, then sees the gas on the diner stove switched on, and then literally a few seconds later, a match is lit and the whole place blows up, because gas can fill an entire diner in the time it takes you to read this sentence.
When Claire proves to be a handful, Alyson turns to child psychologist Dr Freeman, and if your child psychologist is played by Tobin Bell, you’re pretty much doomed from Scene One.When he suggest giving the kid some quality time with her father back in the big city, Daddy’s girlfriend also presents her with a new doll – said girlfriend ends up being thrown out the window.
Worse, Claire tells the psychologist that Mommy is being abusive to her, and in one of the more effective scenes, Claire hurts herself in front of Alyson when Alyson keeps insisting on getting rid of the doll. Some research on Alyson’s part reveals that her daughter is in possession of a Guatemalan Worry Doll (though, given that the real things are tiny, look nothing like the one we see here, and aren’t meant to be evil, I’m thinking her investigation didn’t go much further than a drunken Yahoo search). She also locates the now-teenage killer boy we saw at the beginning of the movie, a former owner of the doll and currently institutionalised for killing his family…
Again, if FINDERS KEEPERS has anything going for it, it’s that it looks good (only later did I learn that it was a TV movie), and the kid actor didn’t disappoint, easily able to convincingly go from Cute to Screeching in under 0.6 seconds).
But really, it was so derivative of CHILD’S PLAY, ANNABELLE, AMITYVILLE HORROR, DOLLS, POLTERGEIST yadda yadda that you could probably make a game of identifying the nods to other movies. And the nature of the threat remains undefined. The idea seems to be that the doll is possessing the kid, but there is no way in hell that even a possessed kid can do everything required to kill all the people we see – including impaling some hapless victims onto a set of antlers on a ceiling, and chasing down and killing a garbage man who’s taken the doll (the garbage man is played by Steve Austin, and if you get one of the DVDs that advertise him prominently, better luck next time).
The killings, all indirect, become laughable in places (in one shot, an actor feigns being stabbed in the back, and then seconds later stumbles into view to show the fake knife and plenty of blood down his shirt). Then there’s the fact that bodies are really piling up around the house and the kid, but no police come along to, you know, ask a few questions. Not that I’m a law enforcement expert or anything…
FINDERS KEEPERS is Meh. I can see it being entertaining for the undiscriminating, or the novice to the subgenre. The movie is available from various sources, and the trailer is below.
Director: Alexander Yellin
Plot: 1 out of 5 stars
Gore: 2 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains
Reviewed by Deggsy. Batteries not included.