Finders Keepers has a lot going for it. It’s well-shot, with slick cinematography, crisp visuals and a warm backdrop. Some of the settings – especially the nasty house that rests at the focus of the story – look fantastic on film. It’s the kind of place that seems specifically designed for the genre. Welcoming enough, but something just a little… off about it. It works, wonderfully. The onscreen performances are also quite enjoyable, as the primary trio (Jaime Pressly, Patrick Muldoon and Kylie Rogers) all handle themselves as true professionals, delivering the perfect emotions and emotional responses in the appropriate sequences. At a glance, from a distance, this is a damn solid movie. But that’s at a glance… from a distance. Once you’ve been sucked into the picture (which it does succeed in doing, for reasons we’ll expand on a bit later), the flaws really begin to surface, soon agitating the viewer more than actually frightening, or even entertaining.
What’s that old saying that slimeball men employ when discussing the physical looks of women?Good from far, far from good. Yeah, that one sums the picture up perfectly.
See, for all the great angles, well-managed lighting and smooth, drawn out camera shots, there are story hurdles that become increasingly more difficult to overcome. And that all stems from the simple fact that this story has been told too many times to count. That’s not a joke. Annabelle, Amityville Dollhouse, Child’s Play, The Pit – those are but a very few past pictures (pulled right from the top of the head) that play with the very same, or extremely similar concept. Hell, there’s even an old Twilight Zone episode with a similar premise. But even beyond the fact that there isn’t an ounce of originality in the film, we’re also forced to contend with specific sequences that feel as though they were lifted directly from other films. Try and watch this movie without drawing nostalgic memories of Poltergeist, Dolls or even the first Amityville Horror. It’s tough to do so. What this is, is a recent replication of too many other films. If this was a bid to pay homage to past pictures, it fails in sending that message clearly.
Given all the comparisons listed, a thorough trek through the story shouldn’t require much time. Newly separated parents Alyson and Jonathan Simon are rebuilding new lives. Alyson has primary custody of their daughter Claire, whom she moves with into what appears to be a lovely new home. But it isn’t long before Claire discovers a hideous doll tucked away in the house. And it isn’t much longer after that that Claire’s behavior takes a sinister turn. She goes from being a sweetheart to a loud, angry and obsessed child. Of course, the doll is not only haunted but homicidal, and of course we’re soon on a mission to prevent the death of a family.
Told you. You’ve seen this one, many times before.
But again, that fact shouldn’t necessarily take away from the quality work invested by the present thespians. Despite the fact that this story is as cliche as it gets, Pressly, Muldoon and Rogers all dump everything they’ve got in the project. It may be a lazy concept, but it sure as hell isn’t a lazy effort on the part of the actors. That alone helps the film to feel tolerable. The evil doll in question is also quite the chilling accessory. To be fair, she’s probably a hair more unsettling than theAnnabelle doll, which itself wasn’t pleasant to look at. Another thing this one has going for it is the fact that director Alexander Yellen knew to avoid downtime at all costs. Of course the intensity of the flick heats up in the final act, but Yellen doesn’t wait for any closing moments to get the action in gear. Every 20 minutes or so we’re treated to some scintillating violence, and that measured pace never subsides.
Finders Keepers is just another one of those tricky movies. You can either choose to sit back and be as annoyed as a single mother of six in FoodMax, or you can embrace the film’s strengths and respect the fact that at the end of the day, it isn’t a boring film. Opinions are likely to vary greatly on this picture, although I doubt anyone will leap to label it a smash hit. Somewhere in between greatness and awfulness holds an open seat for a movie like Finders Keepers. How long it takes for the film to eventually fade away and make the journey to that desolate location remains to be seen.
You've seen Finders Keepers many times before under many other titles. But while it isn't even remotely near original, it isn't a complete and total waste of time, either.