Not to be confused with the clown movie of the same name from 2012; this is a 2001 straight-to-video. It’s directed by Neil Marshall Stevens, better known as a writer–his credits include Thirteen Ghosts and Head of the Family. Mrs. Albright is a demon posing as an old woman whose bag is tricking people into giving her their souls. Then she makes them into paper dolls and sticks them in a photo album. From there they make sad faces and squeak and occasionally have to do her bidding. She’s currently hanging out at a boarding house, with owner Mrs. Grove (it’s a period piece—though it’s not clear exactly when it takes place, the characters greet each other formally), Mrs. Grove’s niece Kathryne, married couple Ellen and Robert, spinster Miss Lester, widower Sam, and young college man Will. Mrs. Albright is able to fool people by convincing them “to do what they secretly want to do,” and since everyone has desires, they’re ripe for the plucking.
It’s made by Full Moon Pictures, and as such one can expect a loooow budget, mediocre acting, underwhelming special effects, and even bad sound effects (they remind me of the Halloween sounds tapes I used to have as a kid). However, Full Moon movies usually have their merits too, and this one is no exception. The premise is kinda neat, and adds something creative to the genre. To me the goofiness (for example, the paper dolls have the actors’ faces on them, grimacing—the unrealism only makes it more amusing) is fun rather than agonizing. It’s not extremely predictable, and the makeup is rather good. When decent special effects are really needed, like when Mrs. Albright transforms into her actual demonic self, the filmmakers wisely show what’s happening in silhouette—and it works.
It tickles me that this horror movie seems like it was made by fundamentalist Christians. Mrs. Albright decides to start with Will the agnostic rather than Robert the mean and emotionally abusive husband. Miss Lester turns out to be gay, and is seduced by Mrs. Albright pretending to be Ellen and making out with her. Ellen is then duped by Mrs. Albright pretending to be Robert. Mrs. Albright later gloats that Ellen was a challenge to her because “All you wanted was love.” Um, what about Miss Lester? I guess her love doesn’t count.
Yes, the movie is a bit homophobic and a lot hypocritical (Miss Lester is apparently evil because she’s gay, but that doesn’t stop the filmmakers from exploiting the girl-girl kissing—the ladies kiss not just once, but three times, in between Miss Lester getting naked). Liking the movie is similar to liking a person who’s nice, but disagrees with you about most things. None of the main characters really deserve to be tortured for eternity because they wanted things like knowing how to read or finding out for sure that there’s a God; even the most repugnant of them—Robert—is just a loudmouthed jerk. But they’re not extremely likable either, so one’s heart doesn’t bleed to see them go. Give it a look if you’re in the mood for cheese and Bibles—just make sure to keep your soul to yourself.