Dollhouses have always been a good source of horror in films, but one keen horror fan has found a way to take his personal one to the next level: transforming each room within it into an iconic set from a horror movie or TV show.
Drew Brockbank, a production designer from Stockton-on-tees, England, went viral in late October when his girlfriend Chloë tweeted photos of the dollhouse he'd been working on, a follow up to the The Shining-themed bookends he'd made her for Christmas last year.
"When I looked online I couldn’t find any that I felt were unique enough, so I decided to make some," Brockbank tells SYFY Wire of the project that prompted his most recent one. "When I was trying to come up with ideas I remembered I had all this leftover dollhouse furniture, so I thought why not try and recreate some scenes from famous horror films as that is my girlfriend’s favorite genre. I picked The Shining because the sets are so recognisable and its an unreal film."
Following the big response the bookends received online, Brockbank, who is completely self-taught, not really having dabbled in model-making before this, was inspired to do the same with an old dollhouse left to him by his grandmother.
"I started with the main rooms: the kitchen, living room, bedroom and bathroom and then tried to pair them up with the most iconic scene to represent each room," explains Brockbank of his process. "I knew that Saw had to be the bathroom, and The Exorcist for the bedroom was a given as well as the hallway being The Shining. I struggled with the kitchen idea before settling on Poltergeist."
However, the living room proved to be a bit of a challenge as Brockbank wanted to limit his theme to just movies. "I liked the idea of keeping all the rooms based on a cult horror film, however I couldn’t shake the idea that the living room from Stranger Things would be one of the coolest to see in miniature form, especially with all the Christmas lights, so I cracked and went with that."
But that wasn't the only challenge he faced over the eight-month process that he undertook when England went into lockdown due to the current COVID-19 pandemic. Despite being the first room he started working on when he began the whole project, from The Shining took six months to complete as Brockbank wasn't too happy with how it had turned out initially.
"I had printed out the famous carpet pattern on a piece of paper and it looked good, but I couldn’t help but feel like it was a cop-out," says Brockbank of the red and orange pattern on the carpet found in Stanley Kubrick's cult classic film. "Carpet has a texture that you just couldn’t replicate on a piece of paper. So for months I sat on this until my brother had the idea to buy felt sheets in the colours we needed and have the carpet pattern laser cut onto the felt."
Brockbank, who studied film and television in college, credits his skills to YouTube, having watched prop and diorama builds on the site for years as a form of entertainment. Adam Savage's Tested, in particular, is a big source of inspiration.
"His channel focuses on production design in a big way," says Brockbank, who's hoping to work in production design in the future. "He has a video of him recreating a replica of The Overlook Miniature Maze seen in The Shining which was a big influence for me."
With the dollhouse now finally finished, and the outside redone to resemble the Bates Motel from Psycho, Brockbank is already eyeing his next project. However, don't expect another themed dollhouse just yet.
"I was thinking about doing another dollhouse potentially with a brand new theme like Christmas, but I’ve actually had a lot of interest in creating custom bookends themed to peoples’ favourite movies/tv shows so I think I’m going to be focusing on [that] over the Christmas period," says Brockbank. "Hopefully in 2021 I could morph this into a career in film making/production design. Never say never to a new themed dollhouse though."
You can see detailed images from Brockbank's dollhouse down below.