Welcome back to my “Tales from the Darkside” Marathon! The use of toys and dolls in horror is often a good way to take something innocent and turn it into a nightmare. Dolls can be especially effective because of the human appearance. Today’s tale looks at an apparently innocent family of dolls. This is “The Geezenstacks.”
Audrey Hummel is a little girl who loves playing with dolls. So, her uncle Richard surprises her with a dollhouse that houses a set of dolls she names the Geezenstacks. Over time, her father, Sam, notices that events happening within his family also appears to be happening with the dolls. At first, Sam chalks this up to mere coincidence, but the parallels soon begin to pile up even more. Is it all really just a huge coincidence, or could the dolls be predicting the family’s fate?
This episode was pretty good overall. The strength of it comes from Sam’s eventual paranoia over the dolls because it leaves you conflicted about everything being a coincidence or not. The dolls and dollhouse look both innocent and creepy at the same time, and most of the creepy story elements comes from how Audrey describes situations the dolls are in. They get more disturbing as the episode goes on and only fuels Sam’s paranoia even more. What’s interesting is that the story starts off a little quirky and over time becomes moodier. The plot does feel a bit rushed towards the end, but overall the pacing is fine.
Since Richard and the mother, Edith, are pretty standard as characters go, I’m going to focus on Sam and Audrey as the episode gives them the most screen time. As I mentioned, one of the strong points to the episode and to his character is Sam growing increasingly paranoid. He becomes fixated on the dolls and how they seem to reflect and even predict events in his life before they happen. I thought his performance was effective overall. As for Audrey… Well, I’ve said before that child actors are usually hit or miss for me (mostly miss). Unfortunately, aside from her describing the dolls, I couldn’t get into the actress’s performance. She sounded like she overemphasized her words and didn’t come off natural. Plus, they made the decision to have Audrey play violin twice in the episode, including the very first shot. She plays it VERY badly. Any time she was onscreen, it was just borderline painful for me to sit through.
There’s pretty much a twist within in a twist in this one. The initial twist is easy to guess as the episode gives you pretty obvious hints not long into it, but the secondary twist was a bit…confusing. It’s one of those twists where at first it seems unexpected, but when you think about it afterwards, it doesn’t make much sense with what the first twist sets up. I still liked the ending, but it could’ve used just a dash of polish.
Despite some flaws, “The Geezenstacks” was an interesting, atmospheric episode. The paranoid feel to it helps both the plot and Sam’s character, the premise is cool and creepy, and despite some confusion, the twist ending worked for me. Check it out if you’re looking for a proper paranoia story or would like a different take on the creepy dolls cliche.