• Country: United States
  • Initial release: August 2019
  • Film Director: J. Zachary Thurman
  • Running Time: 25 Minutes
  • IMDB Grade: 7.5

When it comes to horror movies, there are certain tropes that have become ingrained in our collective consciousness. One such trope is that of the killer doll, a seemingly innocent plaything that turns into a murderous monster. But what if I told you that you’ve never met a killer doll quite like Finley? In the 2019 horror-comedy short film “Finley” directed by J. Zachary Thurman, we are introduced to a unique and unexpected twist on the killer doll motif.

Unleashing Finley: The Origin Story

Unlike the typical possessed killer doll, Finley has a legitimate reason for his murderous streak. He is on a mission to stop a group of college kids from taking over his home. In a clever commentary on gentrification, Finley represents the long-time resident fighting back against the encroachment of newcomers. This fresh take on the killer doll narrative sets the stage for a thrilling and comedic journey.

A Different Perspective: Finley’s Journey

In “Finley,” the focus is primarily on the titular character’s journey rather than the traditional “final girl” narrative. J. Zachary Thurman, the director, wanted to offer the audience something new and unique to watch. While the college students serve an important role in Finley’s story and character development, the audience is encouraged to see the world through the eyes of the killer doll. This shift in perspective challenges our notions of victimhood and evokes a sense of empathy for Finley, despite his evil actions.

Straddling the Line: Balancing Horror and Comedy

One of the most intriguing aspects of “Finley” is the delicate balance between horror and comedy. J. Zachary Thurman is no stranger to blending genres, having previously explored comedy-horror in his feature film “Furry Nights.” With “Finley,” he aimed to keep the audience on their toes, never knowing if a scene would be funny or terrifying. The narrative of the film walks through three stages: horror, comedy, and back to horror, creating a rollercoaster of emotions for the viewers. This careful fusion of genres is a testament to Thurman’s creative vision and storytelling prowess.

“I wanted to trick the audience so they never know if a scene is about to be funny or terrifying.” – J. Zachary Thurman

The Challenge of Short Filmmaking

“Finley” is a 25-minute short film, which is longer than most films in the shorts category. Originally, Thurman envisioned the film to be only 12 minutes long, but as the character arc and story development unfolded during production, it became clear that more time was needed to do justice to Finley’s journey. The extended runtime allows the audience to fully immerse themselves in the world of the film and become invested in Finley’s antics. However, the longer duration does present challenges when it comes to festival submissions, as some festivals have limited programming slots for longer shorts. Nevertheless, the 25-minute runtime was deemed necessary to tell Finley’s story effectively.

The Power of Visuals: Bringing Finley to Life

In horror movies, the fear of the unknown often lies in what is unseen. However, Thurman takes a different approach with the Finley character. Unlike the convention of keeping the monster hidden, Finley is front and center, with his creepy yet oddly endearing appearance. He is not just a monster but an anti-hero, deserving of the limelight rather than hiding in the shadows. This bold choice to showcase Finley’s presence on screen adds to the film’s unique charm and sets it apart from other killer doll narratives.

The Impact of Finley: Connecting with Audiences

Despite being a killer doll, Finley manages to elicit a surprising range of emotions from the audience. Viewers find themselves rooting for this unlikely protagonist, feeling a mix of fear, empathy, and even humor. The character’s journey resonates with audiences, and his misadventures become a source of entertainment and enjoyment. Finley’s unusual charm and the way he navigates the challenges thrown his way make him a memorable and endearing character.

“Being all pesky with your lovable smile and creepy speedy stealth attacks, carrying toasters up the stairs to befriending the family cat.”

The Future of Finley: Sequels and Beyond

With the success of “Finley,” there have been discussions about the possibility of a sequel or even a feature film adaptation. While the character’s story arc is closed in the short film, there are still ideas floating around for Finley’s return in future projects. J. Zachary Thurman recognizes the impact that Finley has had and plans to incorporate the character as an Easter egg in his future endeavors. As for Thurman’s upcoming projects, he is set to start production on a new horror short, this time exploring the realm of psychological horror, a departure from his usual comedy-horror repertoire.

Experience Finley: Film Festival Showings

“Finley” has made its mark on the film festival circuit, captivating audiences with its blend of horror and comedy. It has received acclaim from both viewers and critics, winning several awards for Best Short Film. The film’s unique take on the killer doll genre, coupled with its engaging narrative and memorable characters, has solidified its place as a fan favorite. If you’re looking for a refreshing and entertaining experience, be sure to catch “Finley” at a film festival near you.


In the realm of horror movies, the killer doll trope has been reinvented and reimagined time and time again. “Finley,” directed by J. Zachary Thurman, breathes new life into this familiar motif, offering audiences a fresh perspective and a rollercoaster of emotions. With its clever blend of horror and comedy, memorable characters, and unexpected twists, “Finley” stands out as a must-watch short film. Whether you find yourself rooting for the lovable villain or laughing at his misadventures, one thing is for certain – you’ve never met a killer doll quite like Finley.

So, get ready to be captivated by the world of “Finley” as he takes you on a journey that will make you question your notions of good and evil, all while keeping you entertained and on the edge of your seat. Don’t miss out on this unique and hilarious horror experience that will leave you wanting more.

1 Film Review

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  • Think Home Alone meets Chucky with plenty of unique tropes thrown in and you certainly have a really fun half an hour in front of you.