Explanation of the “Creepy Doll” horror trope

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One of the most spectacular images of horror films is the character “Creepy Doll”. Viewers immediately understand what awaits them: a story of horror and surprises, since the doll is probably connected with the supernatural or with a killing machine. There will be characters who think that a doll can never be associated with something sinister, as well as the main character, sometimes a small child who is too aware of what can happen.

Thinking about the “Creepy Doll” horror trope is a fun exercise, as there’s a lot to know about how it actually works in horror movies. How is this trope defined and in which films is it effectively used?

There are a lot of scary dolls in horror movies, and the “Creepy Doll” trope is often used. According to TV Tropes, the dolls are “adorable” or “gorgeous,” but when they appear in horror movies, they are more evil than they seem at first glance. The website explains this image by saying that, like clowns, dolls create an unnerving and terrible atmosphere and are “part of the scenery.” The subtropy includes a “Vengeful Abandoned Toy”, since sometimes the object does not like being left alone. Dolls are also sometimes “wind-up toys” that seem to move when no one is near them.

TV Tropes explains that the dolls look innocent and cute, so it’s always a shock when they commit murder. And it’s always a horror. There are many wonderful examples of creepy dolls from horror movies, including Annabel, who is perhaps the most famous. “Annabel’s Curse Is Coming Home” could put an end to the “The Curse” franchise, as it is a very spectacular film.

In films about Annabel, the trope “Creepy Doll” is ideally used. Just looking at this doll sent shivers down someone’s spine. Annabel has big eyes and rosy cheeks, and yet there is something in her gaze that proves that something is going on. No one wants to spend time alone in the house with this doll, especially when it’s dark outside.

Chucky is a timeless horror villain, and the Children’s Games franchise brilliantly uses the image of a “Creepy Doll”. In the 1988 film, Andy Barclay (Alex Vincent) wishes a Nice Guy doll for his birthday, which ultimately turns out to be the worst thing that could ever happen to him. From the very beginning, the film has a scary setting, as serial killer Charles Lee Ray casts a voodoo spell on the doll, and the evil Chucky is born.

As TV Tropes explains, the scene is prepared for the scary moments that will come when the idea of a “Creepy Doll” is used. Andy loves spending time with Chucky and even puts him to bed, which is terrible. Chucky looks cute, and no one could ever guess what he’s really capable of. The image of a doll holding a knife or other weapon and chasing people is definitely remembered. Chucky keeps coming back, and it seems that he can’t be killed, which increases the horror.

TV Tropes explains that when the image of a “Creepy Doll” is used, it is “part of the scenery” and helps to prove that this will not be a peaceful story. Brahms in “The Boy” is an impeccable example, as the 2016 film follows this idea. Greta Evans (Lauren Cohen) starts working in a family that lives in the UK, and they have a doll named Brahms. He looks scary and strange because he has defined cheekbones and a dark look in his eyes, and the family wants Greta to take care of him as if he is actually a child. Brahms is an underrated horror villain of the 2010s, as there is a tricky twist: Brahms is an ordinary-sized man who lives in the walls of a house, causing strange things. A doll is nothing more than a toy.

While some horror movie plot twists don’t make sense, this one works, and the trope is well used here as it adds a strange, depressing setting. In the case of the doll in “The Boy”, he does look strange, but it does not seem that he is responsible for strange sounds or harming people, because, of course, he is just a toy.

Horror films that use the image of a “Creepy Doll” often end in a similar way: the characters cannot ignore the chaos that the toy caused and find a way to stop them. In most cases, if there is a sequel or, in the case of the slasher franchise “Children’s Games”, several more films are released, the doll is not really dead or destroyed, and there is more evil where it came from. And that’s the beauty of this trail.

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