EVIL CHOSE HER
The DVD cover art Genius Products provides for the Irish import Dorothy Mills is rather striking. A close-up shot of the titular troubled teen girl, her eyes wide with seeming menace, certainly catches the eye - and it's reminiscent of the creepy promotional art for the 1960 classic Village of the Damned with its close-up of a wide-eyed blond boy.
The DVD's back cover promises "a spine-chilling blend of psychological thriller and gothic terror," and for a change, this tagline is fairly accurate. Dorothy Mills is a brooding thriller that offers mystery and well-developed characters.
And it's an interesting movie, up to a point.
The main character of Dorothy Mills is actually Jane, a child psychologist who travels to an Irish island to examine a troubled 15-year-old girl named Dorothy, who molested an infant on her first babysitting assignment. Jane is a bit troubled herself, as she has lost her only son in a drowning accident. The psychologist finds the townspeople abrupt and rude, and decidedly fanatical about their religion. Her travels are disrupted when she's run off the road by some frantic teens in a car, nearly killing her in a scene that will have some moviegoers recalling the opening of the 1962 cult classic Carnival of Souls. Jane is determined to help the awkward Dorothy, at first becoming convinced that the girl is suffering from multiple personality disorder. However, as gothic thrillers necessitate of course, the truth is much grimmer than it first appears.
To say more would be to spoil a bit too much. Dorothy Mills has a lot to recommend it. The two leads, for instance, are quite good and compelling. Carice van Houten is likeable as Jane. The character made me think of an edgier Dana Scully from The X-Files, especially since she brings reason in the face of religious and superstitious zeal brought on by the islanders. Jenn Murray offers an unusual off-kilter screen presence suitable for her role as Dorothy, although the character's "multiple personalities" become almost comically unconvincing as the movie progresses, more because of the plot than Murray's performance. The movie also offers some breathtaking shots of Irish landscapes and manages to create a dark ambience effectively to heighten suspense.
At 102 minutes, however, Dorothy Mills does seem a bit padded, and a good 10 - 15 minutes of extraneous character scenes could have been excised. Its resolution is creative in a Stir of Echoes sort of way, but its execution leaves a lot to be desired. While I admired the film's creative storyline, which arrives courtesy of director Agnes Merlet and Juliette Sales, the revelatory conclusion is awkwardly realized and falls flat.
Despite these faults, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Dorothy Mills. It's an atmospheric and chilling romp, and should entertain those looking for some thought with their scares.
Genius Products gives Dorothy Mills an anamorphic widescreen presentation that they claim "preserv[es] the aspect ratio of its original theatrical exhibition." Much of the film is either darkened or cast in blue hues to create atmosphere, although there are bright flourishes in sunlit scenes - most notably in a rich and colorful sequence during which Dorothy and Jane walk along the countryside. All in all, Dorothy Mills has a nice video presentation that enhances the dark ambience of the film's plot and setting.
The lone audio track is an English language Dolby Digital 5.1 affair. It's a serviceable track as dialogue is always clear and consistent, though the mix isn't particularly dynamic.
Subtitles are available in Spanish and English for the Hearing Impaired.
Trailers precede the main menu for Eden Lake and Suburban Mayhem. There doesn't seem to be a link for these in the menu system; however, a Trailer option provides access to a trailer for Dorothy Mills.
The only other extra on this disc is The Making of Dorothy Mills (25:47). Members of the cast and crew discuss the movie with scenes from the film spliced in between comments. The extra is widescreen but not anamorphic. Compared to a lot of short fluff that appears as extras, I suppose this is comparatively more in-depth than the norm.
Dorothy Millls takes good advantage of Irish landscapes as well as color and hue to establish mood. Its storyline is interesting, although its development is overlong and its resolution is heavy-handed. Recommended, nonetheless.