I've always had a huge interest in film, theatre, art, and design, and as I've gotten older this has merged with my interest in political issues. I have a passion for theatre design in particular, and focus largely on the socio-political aspects of the texts I design for, creating dynamic and interesting characters whose physicality reflects the political landscape that surrounds them.
The Iceman Cometh by Eugene O’Neill was written in 1939, and is set in 1912 New York. A tragedy in four acts, it’s long, repetitive, and full of melancholy. For my major project I wanted to create a set of character designs and moving storyboards of key scenes throughout the play, intended to appear on stage. The text emphasises the very human need for some kind of hope, even false hope, as necessary for the human condition, and this really resonated with me. Both in The Iceman Cometh and in Irish society, I believe we’ve seen fraudulent saviours professing to have the capabilities to make everything better, while not achieving the things they promised. Many of the characters in the play were portrayed as having a deep sense of ambivalence towards political movements they were once devoted to, and this was something that felt very personal to me as well.
Focusing on the killer doll sub-genre of horror specifically, this is an exploration of how horror cinema has incorporated dolls and children’s culture into its pantheon of fright and, over time, corroded the public image of dolls. Through an exploration of three specific films, Dead of Night (1945), Child’s Play (1988), and The Boy (2016), spanning the course of seventy one years, we can see a clear and concise timeline of how the doll devolved into something terrifying and not to be trusted, an invader in the comfort of the familial home. Dead of Night shows us the first truly evil killer doll, with little allusion to children and childhood apart from the physique of the doll. Child’s Play brings us forward forty three years to the perfect child contrasted with the caricature of the unreasonableness of a toddler, forcing us to fully consider how we feel about children and presenting us with two perfect figures onto which to project these feelings; the doll and the child. Lastly, The Boy presents us with a newer version of this story, one wherein we have already been trained by our implicit bias to not trust the doll from the onset. Overall this thesis is an examination of the reasons dolls have become demonised in our culture, and how horror cinema, particularly killer doll horror cinema, contributed to this.