I’ve never been a fan of The Exorcist, it was boring, silly and not even bad in a way that would make me laugh, but over the years I have found it to be an excellent solution to insomnia, as after the first expletive from Linda Blair’s young teenage mouth I’m already counting the Zeds in the cute little dream bubble above my head.
So when a film uses a tag line touting it‘s contents as the ‘The Modern Day Exorcist’ then I’m pretty much going to avoid the crap out of it, and yet, because the reality of the subject intrigues me, and creeps me out immensely, I’m willing to get at least another good nights sleep out of the experience, if nothing else.
Dorothy Mills is not about an exorcism, or foul mouthed biblical demons doing their own little make under on the teen protagonist, and just to drive it as far off the cliff away from the 70’s pea soup fest as it possibly can, this movie is actually good.
Following the death of her young son, psychiatrist Jane Morton travels to a tiny and extremely insular island, to investigate the case of Dorothy Mills, a teenage girl (in need of a better hairdresser Stat.) who strangled a baby she was looking after one night. The baby survives the attack, but Jane has to decide whether or not the girl is truly evil or is the victim of her own fragile mind. Throw in a big old secret, and some supernatural happenings, and you have yourself an extremely decent horror thriller, that has been marketed all wrong.
First of all, the acting in this is key and Jenn Murray’s outstanding performance as the tortured Dorothy is one of the best you’ll find anywhere, never mind a low budget, straight to DVD job. The absolute transformations that occur with her characters progress is absolutely mesmerising, not to mention heartbreaking.
With elements reminiscent of Carnival of Souls and The Wicker Man, it marries the perfect blend of innocence and terror, amongst the beautiful Irish landscapes, while social isolation, coupled with the secrecy and mistrust of the inhabitants, creates creeping atmospherics and a slow burning tension that grabs your full attention within the first few minutes.
As if that wasn’t good enough for your dollar, then let’s add the fact that it has a genuinely disturbing and clever plotline, with enough creeps for a prepubescent campfire scare fest and you got yourself a pretty good time.
It’s slow, granted, but in my experience the most affecting films always creep up on you like a multiple legged nasty and leave your skin itching for days with the mere memory of it. This isn’t Wham Bam Thank You Maam, muscles, mess and maiming, but if you like your thrillers with a bit more substance, then Dorothy Mills will not disappoint.