Over the years, the horror genre has seen its fair share at attempts to use dolls and puppets as an element of fear. Something about the image of those still and lifeless eyes that seem to follow you is enough to creep out even the most macabre of minds. The general theme is usually possessed pawns that come to life in order to wreak havoc on unsuspecting victims with not much to stray from that style. Jerks Productions attempts to put a new spin on this overdone device with its short film, Marionette.
In this short film, literally under 5 minutes, Brandon Tanczak brings us what ultimately feels like a treatment filmed in order to seduce a studio into making a full length feature. The basic idea at the heart of the short is definitely a creative twist on the horror sub-genre of demonic dolls. Set in the workshop of a seemingly demented Gepetto type character. The self-proclaimed puppet master delves into a stiff narration spouting off his frustration for modern audiences’ disdain for his lost art. Citing that people now crave CGI and other technologically advanced means of special effects, he vows to bring audiences something fresh and never seen before. A task seemingly shared by the creator of this mini movie.
As the film breaks from the narrative style and cuts to a couple of female captives, it’s easy to predict exactly how he plans on doing that, human puppets. After a moment of sharing in the girls’ desperation to escape their doomed fate, we are treated to a low key, Troma-esque dispersing of victim number one followed by the second victim’s thwarted escape attempt, that is halfhearted even by horror movie standards.
Although the narrative is stiff and unmoving, you understand his motives but certainly don’t feel them, the basic idea and plot are actually creative and original. If this had been just a brief preview meant to garner proper funding to develop a full scale feature length movie based on the story of a puppet master gone mad, hell bent on using any means necessary to actually bring his marionettes to “life”, it holds potential. As a short film, it falls a little flat with no time for character development or a real budget to terrify audiences with the transformation from flesh to figurine.