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Released 7 December 2012
Director Kirsten Sheridan

Seána Kerslake, Johnny Ward, Kate Stanley Brennan, Shane Curry, Ciaran McCabe, Jack Reynor, Deirdre O'Kane, Peter Gowen, Conor Neary
Writer(s) Kirsten Sheridan
Producer(s) John Wallace
Origin Ireland
Running Time 99 minutes
Genre Drama
Rating 16

Friday night drama.

I mentioned in a recent review that there is a plethora of good homegrown Irish movies in the market at the moment and hoping to be added to that list is Kirsten Sheridan's – daughter of famed director Jim – debut feature as both writer and director. Delving into the youths – on that note, who here hates the word “youths?” - of Irish, and in particular Dublin, culture is always going to be a tricky subject to portray accurately. It changes at a rapid pace from one set of six-year Leaving Cert cycles to the next, not to mention from one town to the next. On a number of levels Dollhouse works, but it is ultimately too wrapped up in its own ideologies to be heralded as an indigenous contemporary classic.

After a group of six adolescent misfits break into an upmarket house while the owners are away, the night becomes a messy concoction of drink, drugs, sex, fights and general coming-of-age moments – just your everyday teenage party then. But there are a series of twists which keep the plot fresh, particularly an early one that reveals that one of the group was actually a former resident of the elegant manor. As everyone becomes more intoxicated, their interactions become doubly intense and heated, forever simmering on the edge of something dangerous being likely to happen.

Mainly shot in a camcorder style, you'd be forgiven for thinking that this has been a sometimes overused method of instilling the idea of something threatening to turn ugly but its use here is decidedly claustrophobic. Whether that is agreeable or not is going to be up to the individual viewer because with so many explosions of mood swings from the core group it would be understandable to be a little uncomfortable with the constant bombardment.

The quality of the acting is inconsistent which, in truth, can be a little grating on the nerves. It is clear that the talented mix were given leeway as to how to interpret their lines and often raucous moments together but perhaps it could have been reeled in a little because there are some scenes that would be better suited to a college production rather than the big screen.

In essence, Dollhouse is a feature-long, Irish version of a particularly angsty episode of Skins. It's always interesting and you'll never want to look away because of the graphic content but in terms of emotionally engaging its viewer it probably falls that bit short.

- David Caulfield