Studio: 4Digital Media
Director: Andrew Jones
Writer: Andrew Jones
Producer: Lee Bane, Andrew Jones, Robert Graham, Beccy Graham
Stars: Tiffany Ceri, Jason Homewood, Nigel Barber, Steve Dolton, Chris Bell, Clare Gollop, Christopher Hale, Suzie Frances Garton, Richard Burman, Lee Bane
A young woman confronts the cursed Robert doll when she becomes the new custodian at a museum where the deadly toy is displayed.
My dislike of North Bank Entertainment productions is well documented in reviews of “Night of the Living Dead: Resurrection” (review here), “The Amityville Asylum” (review here), “A Haunting at the Rectory” (review here), “Poltergeist Activity” (review here), and the first “Robert” film (review here). North Bank’s apathetic assembly line of DTV rubbish is wholly unconcerned with content quality, dependent exclusively on eye-catching artwork and tying into a public property or urban legend to snag checkout line impulse buys.
With zero discernible improvement in storytelling or technical execution over this span of output, there is no reason to expect anything other than disappointment from “The Curse of Robert.” Watching it anyway can be blamed on my Charles Band childhood for instilling an addiction to B-movie sequels featuring killer toys, thereby overruling common sense founded on overwhelming empirical evidence. That’s a fitting reference since filmmaker Andrew Jones fashions himself as a UK-based Band, except Jones’ minimal-effort movies are just cheap and cheesy, without any of the charm Full Moon formerly put forth.
Maybe “The Curse of Robert” is marginally better than its predecessor. Though “Robert’s” bar is embedded so deep in the ground, it’s not like this sequel has to leave its feet to get over it.
At least this movie somewhat sticks to the story of the real-life Robert, something the first film barely does, by being set in a museum where the purportedly possessed plaything is causing trouble from his display case. “The Curse of Robert” even pays tribute to the doll’s sailor suit by regularly inducing seasickness, refusing to spend five seconds on a tripod for even the most basic establishing shots.
Dastardly museum owner Walter Berenson clandestinely acquires Robert from an officer who pinched it from police evidence. With stories spreading about the doll’s possibly evil origins, curious patrons have been coming by Berenson’s new display in droves for a snapshot. Berenson couldn’t be more pleased, because you know how lucrative a roadside tourist trap must be for a manicured businessman looking to rake in big bucks.
After seven minutes of prologue including an opening credits driving sequence, college student Emily becomes the new employee at Berenson’s museum, which looks something like a Sears stockroom circa 1987. It’s also barely bigger than said stockroom, making its night shift crew of two security guards and two custodians overstaffed by at least three people.
Almost immediately, Emily senses something strange about the dopey-looking doll encased in glass. Emily’s boss Ethel and schlubby security guard Stan are more interested in thumbing through tabloids than they are in the new girl’s nervousness. Handsome security guard Kevin however, lends Emily an ear. He gives her his eyes too, as the pair predictably strikes up a workplace romance by bonding over Emily’s suspicions regarding Robert.
Not long after, the first body hits the floor. Emily is certain Robert is responsible. Detective Atkins thinks Emily makes a more plausible suspect. When a second victim turns up, Emily enlists Kevin’s help to track down the doll’s former owner and solve the mystery, lest she be left holding the bag for these Berenson museum butcherings.
If it were possible to make a movie by exerting any less effort, “The Curse of Robert” would have certainly tried. Every drab camera setup, every monotone dialogue delivery, every hokey piece of puppetry screams, “let’s just get this over with.”
Cinematography, a term too good to describe the low-rent aesthetic on display here, is shoddily two-dimensional. If a scene takes place in daylight, forget about finding a shadow anywhere with photography this flat. Only one gaffer is credited and he pulled double duty as an assistant camera, so who knows if anyone did any calculated lighting.
One bizarre shot is framed in a rearview mirror for a scene that doesn’t even take place in a car. Maybe the camera operator was cold and didn’t feel like opening the door or standing up. Half of the frame is also inexplicably obscured by a sun visor. I think that is what is going on anyway. It’s one of many setups making no cinematic sense, so who can really be sure what we are looking at or why.
The music score is such a shameless ripoff of “Halloween” and “The Amityville Horror” compositions, both John Carpenter and Lalo Schifrin might have legitimate grounds to sue.
The title attraction’s collective screentime possibly exceeds one minute, but doubtful it runs over two. When he does appear, Robert’s “animation” consists of having offscreen hands shake him ridiculously or clunkily moving a limb. No attempt is made to give the doll character outside of his goofily silent expression.
The main movie mercifully ends at the 65-minute mark. Before 8-minutes of end credits scrolling so slow they almost go backward, “The Curse of Robert” launches an extended montage of doll parts to further fill the runtime. A chunk of this seven-minute sequence is additionally chewed up with a ludicrous epilogue where North Bank staple Lee Bane cosplays a poor man’s cross between Andre Toulon and Warwick Davis’ Leprechaun.
This yogurt-faced goon with hair made from Halloween store cobwebbing is called “The Toymaker.” “The Curse of Robert” concludes on a card threatening that Robert will return in a movie eponymously named after this mystery man. Based on the lateral move in low-grade filmmaking between “Robert” and “The Curse of Robert,” it’s a sure bet that unrehearsed acting, sloppy staging, and “whatever is on hand” production design will return too.
Curse you Charles Band for my inability to conclusively say, “count me out.” North Bank Entertainment has seen fit to repeatedly remind me I really ought to know better.
Review Score: 25