As much as I love to in bottom-of-the-barrel garbage, I also love it when a movie defies my expectations of being a dumpster fire and actually turns out to be good. This is what happened just last week with BAD MOVIE MONDAY after one of the other people in the group chose a film called “The Curse of Humpty Dumpty” At first, I was stoked because it sounded awful. However, as we watched it we all sort of were all surprised and delighted that this was turning out to be a neat little moody thriller. Nothing perfect mind you, but deserving of mention. So, here’s me mentioning it.
Quick Recap! When COVID shut down everything two years ago, I started an online bad movie night get-together with some friends that we eventually dubbed “Bad Movie Monday”. The premise was simple: We’d torture each other every Monday with the worst trash we could find, tell a few jokes, cheer each other up, and in the process maybe discover some weird obscure cinema that we might never have seen any other way. This series of reviews will feature highlights of those night, so you guys can share in the fun and maybe get some ideas for your own movie night.
I realize that my criteria for what is and what is not a bad film has been hopelessly corrupted by years of gleeful, un-ironic trash cinema viewing. I mean, it’d be like asking a man who lives in the sewer which perfume smells better. Still, I think I can make a good enough case to convince you that not only is this movie “not bad” but that it is in fact actually “quite good” and I’ll fight anyone who says otherwise. Now, normally I’d stay in my lane and review older stuff, but this movie only has a 17% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and I think it deserves better than that.
So let’s go through what is good in the movie.
The Acting. Everyone is British, so it’s a given that this would be good. How could it not? I’ve always suspected that British babies practice Shakespeare in the crib.
The Cinematography. Movies use images and editing in the same way a book uses words. So tone is incredibly important, even more than story or plot in many ways. Curse of Humpty Dumpty understands this and has an appropriately consistent tone throughout. One of growing dread and of secrets and of remorse.
The Music. One of my weaker “likes” but still a like. The music is unobtrusive and appropriately grim. The composer isn’t trying to lead the scenes, merely underline them.
Storytelling. The movie is oddly compelling. It also doesn’t just throw everything out at you in a mad rush. It slowly reveals things and doesn’t hold your hand when it does. Often, if you blink you missed it.
Now let’s talk about the bad.
The Humpty Dumpty Doll. Good God it looks terrible. Why is it SO HARD for filmmakers to make a scary doll? It’s a personal pet peeve of mine that most horror movie dolls never look scary, specifically because the filmmakers are trying so hard to make them look scary. Pro Tip for the prop department: Dolls are made for small children. They’re not supposed to look like they were built by a Goth kid with anger issues. Don’t get me wrong, the doll isn’t too bad, but I really wish they’d made it look like an actual toy and used lighting to and camera angles to make it scary.
The Title. I’ll be blunt. It’s a stupid title. I mean, what else can I say? You look at it and it’s like one of those dollar store bargain bin horror movies like “Revenge of Little Red Riding Hood” or “The Bride of Frankenshark”. (Don’t worry by the way. Neither one of those exists… yet.) These are movies whose title and posters are given more thought than their scripts. I mean, I get it. Humpty Dumpty is a familiar name and the title catches the eye. Still, it’s hardly the scariest of the nursery rhymes.
The Story. As many positives as I can give this, in the end it remains a movie about Humpty Dumpty. A very short riddle that eventually became a nursery rhyme because the answer is so well know that, to this day, we still think of eggs when we think of Humpty Dumpty.
This is threatening to turn into a weird history class huh? Okay, onto the review. The film opens with two daughters (Sian Altman and Antonia Whillans) bringing their mother (Nicola Wright) back to their childhood home where a tragedy once occurred. Once they settle in, the mother becomes obsessed with a Humpty Dumpty doll she finds at a thrift store. She brings it home and insists that it once belonged to her and that she half-remembers it.
The doll, of course, is evil, and alive. A trope that has been used so many times that I don’t even need to explain that it only comes to life when no one is looking and that the mother is the only one who can see it kill people, but that no one believes her because of her dementia.
That said, they do some interesting stuff with the idea and the ending is legitimately original-ish. I mean, this isn’t going to blow your mind or anything. It’s not reinventing anything. Trust me, Chucky is safe. However, this is a movie made for nothing that gives the audience something, and I feel this ought to be commended. So I’m commending it. The people both in front and behind the camera did a hell of a job.
Worth a watch? Yeah! Why not! Take a chance on a low budget movie. This is what being a film buff is all about, watching obscure shit that makes you go “Hey! That was kind of neat.”
The film can be found for free on Tubi. You can’t get a better bargain than that.