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Playing With Dolls – Havoc Review: Fresh Reprieve From Failed Hollywood Formula, Q and A with Stormi Maya


In a genre that has as many successful franchises such as Friday The 13th and Saw, the horror genre is to the point of near exhaustion.

For every Annabelle, Exorcist, Psycho, Alien and Scream, there is Event Horizon, Fraility and The Mist. If you are into straight-up gory and violent slasher flicks with lots of screaming and attractive women fighting for their lives, then Playing with Dolls: Havoc may be just the ticket.

Havoc, a slasher horror film directed by Rene Perez (It Hungers; The Burning Dead; The Dead and the Damned), is a sequel to Playing with Dolls (2015) and Playing with Dolls: Bloodlust(2016). Starring Nicole Stark, Charlie Glakin, John Scuderi and Playboy model Stormi Maya.

Havoc is a story of violence allowed to run amok unchallenged and overcoming the odds on your own with unlikely allies.

In the film, Havoc, a chain-masked killer escapes jail and is on a murderous rampage as he tears through a group of unsuspecting vacationers. Director Rene Perez stated prior to the release of the film that he will focus primarily on action, in his latest slasher by stating, "This time, I'm letting the action take center stage. I'm letting the carnage drive the story."

And boy does Perez let the carnage fly, by the bucket loads in Quentin Tarantino-like stylish blood-filled fountains.

As the eerie and foreboding trailers suggest, this movie is violent and filled with gore, blood, some partial nudity and carnage, thus it is not for the meek, mild and causal fan looking to venture into the world of horror slasher flicks.

That being said, enter it at your own risk.

Potential spoilers ahead!

Havoc starts off slow and seemingly innocent with Annabelle wondering into a deep cavern. After coming upon a series of items such as a series of blood-stained documents with instructions money, a doll hanging on a rope and money. After a wardrobe change into a slinky and very flattering dress, she descends deeper and deeper into the cavern—and game show itself.

Unbeknowst to her, Annabelle is noting more but an unsuspecting pawn in a sick and demented game—completed with Pretty Little Liars-style eerie background music and surveillance cameras—orchestrated by “The Master”, as mentioned by two Call Of Duty-looking wannabes from Echo Team, who unshackle the killing machine, Havoc, which would prove to be their undoing.

After Annabelle escapes from Havoc and the cavern, Havoc also escapes and is ready to unleash a series of frightening and epic carnage upon a series of innocent victims that would have made his fellow slasher peers Jason and Freddy nod in approval.

After his escape, Havoc happens upon a cute and quaint vacation cabin, that seems to have its own set of drama, as an unsuspecting wife, Sara (Nicole Stark) meets the mistress, Mia (Jade Ellis) of his cheating husband Tim (Kyle Clarke), and after Mia’s car batteries die, needs a jumpstart.

After a conversation with Bob (John Scuderi) over his boss’ illicit affair with her and the need to separate her from Sara, Bob goes off to get a kit to help Mia with her car. Under the assumption that Bob was fixing her car, Havoc comes up and rip out all of the wiring inside of the vehicle preventing Mia from leaving, and goes off hiding over by a nearby tree, before Bob comes back and explains to her that her car will not be going anywhere at all.

Well played Havoc! So, now, Mia and Sara will have to co-habituate inside of the same cabin fighting over the same man that loved and betrayed them both.

Oh boy. Plays perfectly into Havoc’s thirst for blood and carnage.

After Bob explains that Mia is looking for another Timothy—which was a lie—both women agree to never speak of Tim again. With Bob in his garage to grab his truck that will help take Mia back to the city, Havoc knocks him unconsciously, and gagging him up with rope, chains, cable and wire.

In what can best be described as a nod to Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Havoc brutally murders Bob.

Back at the cabin, in a what can best be described as an awkward conversation between wife and mistress, Sara begins questioning how the affair between Mia and Timothy began, before having to go to the laundry room to warm up her frozen clothes—all alone—with Havoc watching her undress and get warm.

After Sara goes to her room to lie down, the maid Alicia go through all of the lights, only to discover a set of footprints and the back door wide open, only to have Havoc come from behind and stab her.

Following a brief and kind exchange between the two, Timothy finally arrives back to the cabin, with Mia going down to the media room—and out of the way—of an inevitable confrontation of the spouses.

With the mistress down the hall and out of the way, Tim finally comes upon his wife, Sara—while carrying a bottle of wine, which is a dead giveaway—as to his affair.

After playing coy with her and trying to deny any involvement, Tim finally admits to his affair and relationship with Mia, after a long semi-sorry mansplaining excuse of getting caught. With an antsy Mia in the media room hoping for the storm to pass, Havoc decides to perform another gory-hack style execution of an already dead Alicia, which at this point of the movie seemed pointless.

After trying to excuse his affair as “harmless” and a “common mistake”, Tim goes into a long-drawn out soliloquy of not being an drunk or gambler, closeted, abusive or a pedophile-like sicko and that he is a “normal” and hard-working, red-blooded guy who is likes women based on what nature intended to.

Just as Sara is about to decide the future of their marriage, Havoc busts in beats Tim to a semi-alive pulp, while Sara flees into the freezing cold outside—with no keys for the Jeep, and no way to call for help.

At this point, the rest of the movie is so dull and pointless.

With the current lack of ideas and originality that is sadly prevalent in Hollywood today, Havoc had a chance to forge its own identity in terms of being that next blood-soaked diamond in the rough. Sadly, it suffers from a glorified—and at times—slow gore fest of a plot, bogged down by the typical and typical—and at times predictable slasher flick clichés.

Vehicle won’t start. Check.

Electricity cut off. Check.

Phones disconnected and out of service. Check.

Attractive eye candy set to be brutally murdered. Check.

And yet, Havoc lives up to its name in serving up gore, screams and enough suspense to keep you hooked. Like a Michael Bay blockbuster, you know what you sign up for in watch a slasher flick like it.

Back to the film, and after finding a near-frozen Sara head-first in the snow, Mia—who decides to “burrow” her host’s Jeep and try to leave, brings her BACK inside the now darkened cabin, but this is a horror movie—and you are not allowed to leave just yet, right!

After bringing Sara back inside, and to warm her up and fend of hypothermia by running some hot water for her in a tub, Mia has unwantedly lined up Havoc’s next two victims. Or does she?

In what can be best described as a what-the-hell kind of twist in the final 30 minutes of the film, Havoc tried a little too hard to be a lot of things it couldn’t.

One minute, it wants to be Jason’s long-lost distant cousin, the next minute a touch of Resident Evil with a dash of Kill Bill and Survivor after seeing both Mia and Sara stand up to a seemingly unstoppable Havoc, and somehow miraculously finding a revolver gun (!) in the house.

Okay.

Let's just say that the ending is something you have to see for yourself, but it is worth your while.

Following Havoc, I was able to catch up with Annabelle played by Playboy model, Stormi Maya to ask her some thoughts about the movie, and of course her beloved New York Yankees and Aaron Judge.

Aside from Alicia, there seems to be a theme of women, overcoming stronger men and banding together in this film, would you call that a fair assessment? I think the film shows that all the petty issues we focus on everyday like cheating and drama, mean nothing in the face of fear. All that matters is survival.

Personal highlight of the movie for you? Rene did an amazing job on the cinematography, the forest shots, the way he captures the caverns and the great special effects, everything seems too real when it comes to the death scenes.

As a aspiring scream queen, who is your role model in the horror genre? Jamie Lee Curtis,  of course. Sexy, talented, intelligent and powerful.

Any future projects down the pipeline, we should be looking out for from you? I am working with Rene Perez on another Horror movie, IT Hungers,  starring myself and also produced by myself.  IT Hungers is a horror film following the story of the beautiful outlaw Rachel,  who finds herself trapped in the lair of a cannibalistic monster. 

Fact. When people become frightened, their bodies are flooded with a stress hormone called Cortisol.

There is a creature that feeds on humans, but only when our bodies are ripe with fear and flooded with Cortisol. Only then does it like the taste of human flesh. Only then will it feed. Deep in the forest, beautiful Rachel (Stormi Maya) is on the run from the law and stumbles into the creature’s lair. Like a chef preparing a meal, the creature unleashes a phantom to terrify her: a macabre clown. Once Rachel is terrified enough to be consumed, the creature will move in for the kill. But Rachel is no ordinary girl and she is ready fight to survive.

As a native of the Bronx, I gotta ask you, what are your thoughts on Yankees slugger, Aaron Judge? I know absolutely nothing about sports, I'm a nerdy artist not a jock.

Plan on checking out the Yankees this season, schedule permitting? I hate sports lol.

From one comic nerd to another, Marvel or DC? DC has way better backstories and way more intriguing. Marvel is making a big breakthrough lately with all the Netflix shows and movies, but DC takes the cake for me.

If you had a chance to go out on a date with Bruce Wayne or Tony Stark, who would it be?  They are both players…So neither.  Batman is just a giant whore . They are both rich,  so maybe I can PLAY both and get bills paid lol.

Avengers, Suicide Squad or Justice League?Well, since I love DC, obviously between Justice League or Suicide Squad. D.C. villains are the most interesting…Their backstories always make me want to read more and more. So Suicide.

Overall, despite some of it’s flaws in terms of slow pace, and having a bit of an identity problem of what kind of movie it wants to be at times, Havoc does offer a fresh reprieve from the stale Hollywood tried-and-true failed formula of horror flicks.

Yes, Saw, Annabelle, the Conjuring etc, etc. are all good movies that are already established, but with a little bit of refinement and a couple of tweaks, Playing With Dolls can be the same, as it has a bright future ahead of it,

So if you are ever in the mood to try a little something different next time you want to Netflix and chill, and crave some good ol’ fashioned violence and hacking, you won't be disappointed in Havoc, gore, blood and guts and all.

Rating: 7.25/10


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Robert D. Cobb
Founder, Publisher and CEO of INSCMagazine. Works have appeared and featured in places such as Forbes, Huffington Post, ESPN and NBC Sports to name a few. Follow me on Twitter at @RobCobb_INSC, email me at [email protected]

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