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Creepy Dollhouse

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Miniatures are creepy. A common variation on this is the Reality-Changing Miniature. However, dollhouses, often used for child's play, have come to be regarded as creepy in and of themselves. It's one of the easiest ways to create an Uncanny Village in a single room, and is often cost-effective. Unlike the Reality-Changing Miniature, they do not need to have—and, most often, don't have—supernatural powers. They're just viewed as creepy by themselves. A common variation is when a dollhouse is eerily arranged to mirror some terrifying or disturbing event that has occurred in real life.

It can frequently reflect Alien Geometries, and more vicious versions can be an Eldritch Location. Regardless of villainy, they are often Bigger on the Inside (or made to appear this way).

The most popular version of this is twinned with the Creepy Doll, simply because dolls and dollhouses tend to go together, and tend to be possessions of the Creepy Child or the Deliberately Cute Child. For this trope, it's important that the dollhouse itself also be scary or used for scary purposes, and not just be creepy because it's occupied by one of them.

As time passes, creepy dollhouses tend to be used by a wider spectrum of people and for different reasons other than just horror. It's easier to use a dollhouse, for instance, to mimic a Haunted House, an Old, Dark House, or a dark secret. It also need not have a horrific purpose, as dollhouses can often be used to represent the Cloud Cuckoolander or as a favorite pastime for a Broken Bird. The main point is, they're unnerving in some way. May be accompanied by an Ominous Music Box Tune.

Not to Be Confused with the series Dollhouse.


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    Anime & Manga 

    Audio Plays 

    Comic Books 
  • Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth: Amadeus Arkham returns home to find an escaped mental patient has killed his wife and daughter. During the scene, Arkham focuses on his daughter's dollhouse, where he sees his daughter's head through one of the windows.
  • The page picture is of The Dollhouse Family. Little Alice receives a dollhouse from her mother's deceased great aunt. The beautiful dollhouse is centuries old, and filled with a family of dolls that give Alice the only solace and place to hide from her abusive home life. Things turn darker as the dollhouse stops being just a place to hide, and starts offering her a means to end the threat of there abusive father from beating her mother. The house turns out to be a splinter fragment of an Eldritch Abomination, attempting to escape imprisonment on Earth by consuming member's of Alice's family line. The dollhouse family are her ancestors and relatives which it has already consumed, and if it can't have her, it's willing to wait for her to grow up and have a daughter to threaten... or trick.

    Fan Works 
  • The titular Twilight's Dollhouse, which is not only a house but an entire miniature replica of Ponyville. As the story goes on she fills it with its real world residents, transformed into dolls of various materials to fill it in the protagonist's mad attempt to keep everyone alive so she will not outlive them.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Amityville:
    • The father in Amityville: It's About Time is an architect who, after falling under the thrall of the evil clock, constructs a miniature town full of replicas of 112 Ocean Avenue, the infamous Haunted House that is located in Amityville, Long Island. The main and biggest house has a doll hanging from the window (foreshadowing a character's death) and a graveyard in the backyard with the names of every member of the family written on the tombstones.
    • Amityville Dollhouse is about an evil dollhouse, replete with Creepy Dolls housing demons, that looks exactly like 112 Ocean Avenue. Along with orchestrating a bunch of the usual paranormal shenanigans, the dollhouse also causes whatever happens inside of it to also affect the outside world, like when it makes a giant mouse manifest in the real house after a regular-sized one crawls into it.
  • Annabelle: Creation: The late Annabelle Higgins has a suspiciously accurate recreation of her own house in the form of a dollhouse in her bedroom. While protagonist Janet is observing the dead girl's dolls and dollhouse, a demon posing as Annabelle's ghost tries to take her soul.
  • Batman Returns: The first time we see Selina Kyle's apartment after her transformation into Catwoman, we are actually looking into her eerie, pink-hued dollhouse. She later spray paints it black and attempts to smash it up, making it creepy in a whole other way.
  • Halloween (2018): Laurie has built a replica of the original Myers home. It burns when Laurie eventually apparently kills Michael Myers.
  • In Hereditary, Annie builds miniatures. The main way we learn this is through the opening shot, that depicts the unoccupied dollhouse she's building, before zooming in and revealing it to be identical to her son, Peter's, bedroom.
  • The Lodge: The film begins, in a reference to Hereditary, with the eerie surroundings of a dark house filled with religious belongings, before revealing it to apparently be the contents of Mia's dollhouse.
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors has Kristen construct a dollhouse version of 1428 Elm Street. At the end of the film, a light suddenly turns on in one of the house's windows.
  • A common variant in The Shining. The Overlook Hotel contains a model not of itself, but of the Hedge Maze that exists on its grounds. Jack obsessively watches over it as Wendy and their son Danny explore the actual real-life hedge maze. This is portrayed very creepily, and accompanied by a Scare Chord, as it represents Jack's growing allegiance with the hotel and isolation from his family.
  • Tower of London: Complete with miniatures resembling Richard's competitors for the throne.
  • In You Were Never Really Here, Joe's attempts to rescue Nina, a young victim of sex trafficking, are intercut by scenes of a grown man playing with a dollhouse, although without dolls. This is used to represent that he's a pedophile who has abducted and abused Nina with her father's help.

  • Bruce Coville's Book of... Nightmares II: The Dollhouse features one, which Mr. Fowler had made for his daughter Nadine and leaves to Lina's sister Charlie in his will. Lina thinks it and the dolls that came with it are weird though. It turns out to be key to Jake and Angela Fowler's having transferred themselves into another dimension and eventually dragging Lina with them.
  • A story by Montague Rhodes James is appropriately called "The Haunted Dolls' House", but the actual dollhouse element is downplayed. While the house by itself is pretty creepy, it's haunted in the sense that the dolls come alive.
  • In Sharp Objects, Amma obsessively makes her dollhouse resemble her abusive mother, Adora's, house, even insisting upon using the same materials, and smashes them if they're "wrong" in any way. And the floor of her mother's bedroom is made out of her victims' teeth.
  • The titular mansion from Castle Tourmandyne by Monica Hughes is an antique paper dollhouse which comes with a warning to "Be careful to make this house with love". Of course, the teen protagonists fail to follow these instructions and unleash a curse placed on it by its creator.
  • Betty Ann Wright's young adult novel The Dollhouse Murders is naturally about a creepy dollhouse. A girl discovers the dollhouse in her aunt's home is being haunted by the ghosts of her great-grandparents, constantly reliving the event of their brutal murders. In this situation, while the dollhouse and the dolls inside are scary, they're also benign and are trying to tell the girl something important. The spirits are finally put to rest when the girl figures out they're trying to reveal who really killed them, the man who was their gardener.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Charmed had a magical dollhouse modelled after the Halliwell Manor that the Halliwell Sisters get trapped in in "Scry Hard" and "Repo Manor."
  • Creepshow: In the episode "The House of the Head", a young girl's dollhouse is haunted by a monstrous toy head that moves when she isn't looking and does awful things to her dolls.
  • In The Bridge (2011) the killer in Season 3 has a creepy dollhouse. Shown in episode 8, it depicted all the gruesome murders that happened up to that point in the season, and shows a new room being set up and staged.
  • In CSI there were a whole series of creepy dollhouses, as part of the Criminal Mind Games played by the Miniature Killer. Whenever they appeared, the soundtrack changed to an Ominous Music Box Tune. The dollhouses were exact replicas of the crime scenes of the killer's future crimes, including little dolls representing the victims. The last one replicated a crime scene involving a member of the team: Sara, who was thankfully saved.
  • In the Doctor Who episode "Night Terrors", a young boy's fears are starting to manifest in reality and one of them is that he finds his dollhouse scary. The Doctor and his companions end up shrinking and going into the dollhouse, while dolls try to kill them and sing a creepy song called "Tick Tock Goes the Clock".
  • Father Brown: One episode centers around a woman who created dioramas of crime scenes, with small "houses" with dolls depicting murders. The more traditional creepy dollhouse comes into play as a clue that the woman who created these dioramas accidentally killed her sister.
  • The Haunting of Bly Manor: Flora has a dollhouse that's a near-exact replica of Bly Manor, and shows the locations of everyone who lives there (even the ghosts) seemingly in real-time because the Doll-Face Child moves them.
  • The Haunting of Hill House (2018):
    • Shirley has a model of the 'forever house', the house their mother, Olivia, was designing during their stay at Hill House. It's not quite clear if Olivia and Stephen's plan was to build this house from scratch if if it's a house the Cranes have bought and are planning to refurbish, but either way it's the house that they are getting ready to work on and settle in after flipping and selling one last place for money. Unfortunately that place is Hill House so they never make it into their forever home. In an unusual example of this trope the model itself and the hypothetical house it represents are quite innocent - but it is the target of spiteful, solicitous attention from the haunted house that is determined to be the Cranes' actual forever home: Hill House.
    • Theo also often uses a dollhouse to help her child patients express their pain, which often turns them into this.
  • Downplayed in House of Anubis Season 2. The characters discover an old dollhouse in the attic, and though it's rather innocent, it's considered creepy due to it being an exact replica of Anubis House, which is considered creepy enough as-is. Throw in the fact that the ghost of Season 1's Sarah Frobisher-Smythe ends up possessing it, giving clues often by moving the figurines around the house or making it light-up and smoke, it's just a bit unsettling.
  • In Sharp Objects, Amma's dollhouse is one of her most prized possessions. It also doubles as a Chekhov's Gun when it's revealed that Amma is the murderer and she's placed her victims' teeth as part of the flooring.
  • Supernatural: The Pierpont Inn from "Playthings" features a very large one that takes up almost an entire room, modeled after the inn, with literally hundreds of very old porcelain dolls. Throughout the episode, the dolls seeming move themselves when no one's watching, their placement causing people to die in the real life hotel (i.e. a doll appearing at the bottom of the stairs with a twisted head, causes a man to fall down them and break his neck). Sam and Dean initially suspect it's some form of folk magic. It's eventually revealed that the ghost of its original owner Maggie Thompson, who drowned as a child back in the forties, is haunting the hotel. Her sister Rose has held her back all these decades, but has suffered a debilitating stroke and can no longer do so. As the Inn is closing down, Maggie is killing people due to being terrified of the prospect being left alone for all eternity.
  • Tales from the Darkside: In the episode "The Geezenstacks", a little girl is given a dollhouse by her uncle, who tells her that he found it when the previous owners suddenly abandoned their home, leaving only the dollhouse behind. The girl's father soon notices that whatever happens to the new dolls happens to their family.

  • In the song "Dollhouse" by Melanie Martinez, the doll house represents a dysfunctional family that appears perfect. The daughter, Cry Baby, is the only one who sees the tragedy surrounding her. The music video visualizes her family as the dolls who live in a little girl's doll house, and the daughter's narration in the song tries to get the girl to see and understand the truth about the family.

    Video Games 
  • Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon: In the Rumpus Room, there is a large dollhouse with lights in its windows. If Luigi looks through one of the windows, he will see himself looking into the dollhouse window, as if he is somehow watching himself watch himself.
  • The Room: Old Sins: Crossing over with Alien Geometries, the protagonist investigates a couple's disappearance by looking into a dollhouse, which zooms in and can be interacted with as if it were a full-size house.
  • TinkerQuarry takes place in an Eldritch Location called the Dollhouse, a life-sized, skyscraper-shaped dollhouse in which the toys belonging to a little girl have come to life. Like a real dollhouse, much of the furniture is stated to be made of plastic, and most of the rooms are bright and colorful... but the rooms in the lower floors are dark, grungy, and falling apart. What's worse, the entire Dollhouse is crawling with sinister, dark rats, and with some toys who are either mindless enemies, or psychotic killers.
  • Chris and Ashley in Until Dawn come across one of these while exploring the Washington's basement. Inside is Hannah Washington's diary, and a group of dolls posed in the same way they and their friends were the night they filmed Hannah kissing Michael Munroe.

    Real Life 
  • Frances Glessner Lee was an American forensic scientist who created the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death, a series of gruesome dollhouse-style dioramas used to train forensic investigators and homicide detectives in solving crime scenes. The murder victims were represented by dolls who had "died" gruesome deaths, like a baby girl shot to death in her crib or a woman with a blue face.