Annabelle

All posts tagged Annabelle

Annabelle: Creation – A Little Sugar, a Dash of Spice and Heaps of Brimstone!

Published August 24, 2017 by rmpixie

 

Annabelle: Creation (2017, 1 hr, 49 mins.)

Our favourite possessed doll is back! After seeing her terrorize a family with her demonic presence in Annabelle (2014), of course the creators had to give us an origins story. I mean, it’s only fair, right? Horror producer extraordinaire James Wan and his horror universe needed to give the satanic doll her due with a full back story, and that’s what we get in Annabelle: Creation.

Taking place in 1943, 24 years before the first Annabelle film, we meet Sam Mullins (Anthony LaPaglia), a doll maker hard at work in his shop. He has a mischievous daughter Bee (Samara Lee), who is doted on by him and his wife Esther (Miranda Otto). The family is well-loved by their community and Sam is known for his skill. When they lose Bee in a terrible car accident, they are devastated and mourn their loss for 12 years.  The couple become reclusive but come out of their grieving to open up their home to six orphaned girls and their nun, Sister Charlotte (Stephanie Sigman) after their orphanage closed down.

Kate (Taylor Buck), Tierney (Lou Lou Safron), Linda (Lulu Wilson)Nancy (Philippa Coulthard), and Carol (Grace Fulton) as the orphaned girls.
Photo credit: Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and RatPac Dune Entertainment 2017.

The girls can’t believe their good luck as they explore the huge house, thrilled with all the places to explore. Mr. Mullins is sombre but glad to have them there, only banning them from two rooms: Mrs. Mullins’ who suffered an injury from a mysterious incident years before and stays behind closed doors, and their dead daughter’s locked bedroom. Despite their odd hosts, the girls look to the future and hope for adoption, especially Janice (Talitha Bateman) and Linda (Lulu Wilson). Their bond has made them best friends and they hope to be adopted by the same family. Janice is recovering from polio, so her braced leg makes them both worry that she will be overlooked.

Sam (Anthony LaPaglia) and Esther (Miranda Otto).
Photo credit: Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and RatPac Dune Entertainment 2017.

When Janice wakes one night to find Bee’s bedroom unlocked, her exploration reveals a closet with a doll, our Annabelle, hidden inside. Once discovered, the demonic Annabelle unleashes her powers on the unsuspecting girls and torments the Mullins’, haunting them with the terrible mistake they made years before.

Janice (Bateman) and Annabelle getting acquainted
Photo credit: Warner Bros. 2017

The first two acts of Annabelle Creation give you a decent build up with a couple of jump scares to draw your attention back should you feel you’ve seen/heard this type of thing before. It’s almost as if director David F. Sandberg, who also directed Lights Out, gave you a couple of “I saw that coming” moments to pepper the building tension. The final act is a total horror movie playhouse, with nail-biting action, lots of well-placed scares and a nod to the real Annabelle doll to boot.

The young cast delivered some great performances worthy of a good old popcorn horror flick, and it was nice to see film and TV veterans LaPaglia and Otto back on the big screen. The angelic Bateman had to channel some major badness when Janice changes for the worse, and Wilson was just as good playing her conflicted best friend.  I must say that I was also excited to see Joseph Bishara play a demon again. With his talents used in Insidious and The Conjuring as various supernatural creatures, this composer and actor has stolen my monster heart. Look to him for giving the audience guaranteed willies with just a glimpse of his demonic grimace.

While I’m all for the indie or obscure vintage horror film, I love a good horror franchise. I enjoy revisiting the lore of monsters and recurring characters no matter how schlocky things get, and Sandberg gives us solid prequel to Annabelle. The fact that Annabelle Creation doesn’t do anything new shouldn’t stop you from seeing it, and for those who hated the first Annabelle film, they should know this second installment is really good.  Their ranking makes me think of the Ouija films. I disliked the first film Ouija that came out in 2014 for its weak story which was widely panned, but the prequel, Ouija: Origin of Evil (2016) starring Lulu Wilson, was definitely stronger and gave us some really creepy scenes. It’s no wonder the second film was well-received since Mike Flanagan of the indie hits Absentia and Oculus fame directed and co-wrote it.

With a reported 1 billion made in total for The Conjuring series according to Variety.com, you could argue that these prequels and sequels are made for money not substance, but Wan has succeeded in bringing horror fans consistent films in his Conjuring universe with heroes and villains you want to see more of.  He also mines the very indie directors we support out here in horror land, taps into subject matter that has a wealth of material, and he hit the bull’s-eye with Annabelle. Who doesn’t want to see a great origin story about one of the creepiest haunted antiques that still sits in Ed and Lorraine Warren’s Occult Museum to this day?

To sum it up, there’s no shame in saying Annabelle Creation is a fun Friday night horror movie that does the Annabelle story justice and leads to another potentially solid addition to The Conjuring franchise (If you haven’t figured out what that means, you’ll have to stay right until the very, very end of the credits).  Go see it now!

 

Advertisements

Annabelle: Play Date From Hell

Published October 14, 2014 by rmpixie

annabelle

Annabelle (2014, 1 hr, 38 mins)

Remember that creepy doll from The Conjuring?  The one based on the real Annabelle ragdoll paranormal investigators Lorraine and Ed Warren kept (and still keep) behind glass because she was so supernaturally dangerous?  Well her story is finally here, presented as a prequel to the wildly successful possession film about a family plagued by angry spirits.

Annabelle starts out with the seemingly normal life of a normal couple John (Ward Horton) and Mia Gordon (Annabelle Wallis) a year before the Perron family experience their nightmare.  Happy and expecting their first child, they are god-fearing, wholesome and sweet, and John has a bright if not stressful future as a doctor.  One evening, after a mild spat, John presents Mia with one of the ugliest and creepiest dolls you will ever see to complete her rare, ugly and creepy doll collection in their baby’s nursery.  After a home invasion where murderous cult members attack John and Mia, a series of chilling events escalate into a battle between good, evil and innocent souls.

I think I am the only person who enjoyed this movie.  After reading countless reviews slamming this film, I am going out on a limb to say that this is a solid prequel. The Conjuring is a hard act to follow, so to put that much expectation on a second film is a little unfair, especially when the writer, Gary Dauberman, is creating an entire background for the doll instead of picking and choosing from factual accounts found in The Conjuring.  I wonder if it’s younger reviewers who don’t like the old school references and low-fi horror?  Or maybe I am becoming senile?  I personally appreciated the nods to classic films like Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist, from the protagonists names honouring Mia Farrow and John Cassavetes, to the somewhat gloomy apartment they move to, and the archetypical priest, but maybe I am too simple in my tastes?  Who knows.  You may also notice lead actress Wallis’ first name Annabelle is a weird coincidence, and her uncanny resemblance to Sharon Tate, Roman Polanski’s late wife who was tragically murdered by Charles Manson and his followers while she was pregnant.  It is a clever mix of casting, historical events, and writing that perpetuates a feel and style of vintage horror that doesn’t become campy or tongue-in-cheek.  This is due in part to the great sets and wardrobe, and minimal but seamless special effects to respect the classic forerunners.

Low tech doesn’t mean the film wasn’t scary though.  I enjoyed the jump scares and really dark, chilling scenes that will be nightmare fodder for years to come.  There are also a couple of old school household accidents involving a sewing machine and Jiffy Pop that I was constantly warned about as a kid.  And that doll?  Annabelle’s design, created by special fx artist Tony Rosen, was absolutely hair-raising.   As the evil grew within, her already disturbing face became more hideous in the most subtle but spine-tingling way.  Her lack of movement was also key in this film.  They didn’t cheapen the terror by making her walk around or move a limb.  It created a fantastically sickening anticipation and authentic fear.  I think a lot of people will wonder why these dolls in general were so ugly, but we have to remember the aesthetics of the time.  Creepy looking dolls were a thing back then.  I know because I had a 3 foot Wendy Walker doll that freaked me out a little as a child, in fact, I bet we all had that one doll or toy we had to turn away in order to fall asleep.

The performances were good and almost reminiscent of the vintage General Hospital episodes that Mia watched.  Again, not campy, but understated to mimic the wholesome values of the times, although the motherhood message was a little overdone.  I really enjoyed Evelyn, played by the ageless Alfre Woodard, the book store owner that befriends and eventually helps Mia.  I am so grateful that she wasn’t a stereotype of what Hollywood would paint an African-American woman to be in the late 60’s (whatever that is!).  Her character was a grieving mother who felt a kinship with Mia, and this role could have been played by anyone.  Kudos to the casting team and producers for choosing a woman of colour.  My only issue with the film is the introduction of some children in Mia’s building.  I wished they would have explored their characters.  Also look out for my favourite demon/composer Joseph Bishara, the go-to for the James Wan team of terror, who is always terrifying.

I will state again, at the risk of having popcorn or a shoe thrown at me, that I liked Annabelle.  I might be alone in my enjoyment, but I think it’s good for younger horror fans who haven’t experienced the classics yet, and great for us oldies who love a good throwback that pays homage to well-made vintage horror.

Eden Royce - The Dark Geisha

A reclusive writer ventures out into the world.

Allison Granted

Feminist Programmer Extraordinaire

Jeff Halmos: Brand strategy and identity design

Memorable and effective brand strategy and identity design for small to mid-sized companies, products, and services.

Cinema Axis

Where All Things Film Converge

timwburke

burke –verb (used with object), burked, burk·ing. to murder, as by suffocation, so as to sell the corpse to medical science

The Daily Post

The Art and Craft of Blogging

grotesque ground

Promoting the grotesque in cinema and literature.

CURNBLOG

Movies, thoughts, thoughts about movies.

crazynonsensetalk

A ranting woman's mind

Rock 'N' Roll Central

Showcasing rare, unusual, limited edition & signature series musical gear

The Tyranny of Tradition

Lamentations and Jeremiads 25 Years After The End Of History

What Are You Doing Here?

A Black Woman's Life and Liberation in Heavy Metal

The WordPress.com Blog

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.