10 items from 2017
For his second feature, David F. Sandberg really went all out for Annabelle: Creation, mixing up his bag of horror tricks to deliver a cinematic experience that just relentlessly comes at you with the scares once the titular doll is discovered and all hell is unleashed on anyone in her path. As far as prequels go, Sandberg has done a helluva job with Annabelle: Creation, and I commend the filmmaker for creating a clever and wickedly fun horror movie that surpasses its predecessor in numerous ways (akin to Mike Flanagan’s Ouija: Origin of Evil last year). And, beyond that, Sandberg actually found a way to make the Annabelle doll super creepy, and I’m not one to be easily unnerved by evil inanimate objects. Well done all around, sir.
Annabelle: Creation precedes the events of Annabelle by more than a decade, when we first meet a doll-maker named Samuel Mullins (Anthony Lapaglia) and his family (Miranda Otto as the missus and Samara Lee as the adorable little “Bee”), who enjoy an idyllic life on their homestead until an accident claims the life of Bee, leaving her parents grief-stricken and despondent over their loss. After some time, they decide to invite a group of orphans who have been displaced to live with them, hoping the new residents will help bring some life into the otherwise empty-feeling abode.
But the Mullins quickly realize that bringing the children and their caretaker, Sister Charlotte (Stephanie Sigman) into their home was a big mistake, as young Janice (Talitha Bateman) discovers a secret hidden away in Bee’s bedroom: an evil doll that seems to be hellbent on torturing the little girl, as well as her best friend, Linda (Lulu Wilson), and the rest of their fellow orphans. And that’s when things go absolutely bonkers in the best ways possible.
Sandberg proved he was more than capable of concocting some innovative, yet beautifully simple scares with last summer’s breakout hit Lights Out. For Annabelle: Creation, though, he steps up his game and devises some truly inspired scares, once again tapping into childhood fears to bring his beautifully twisted genre sensibilities to life.
Oh, and just because he’s dealing with children, don’t expect Sandberg to take it easy on the young protagonists in Annabelle: Creation. All the girls get their fair share of terror-filled moments to endure throughout the story, but it’s Bateman’s character, Janice, who really feels the brunt of most of it, being tortured by ghostly figures, creepy entities hiding in the shadows, an unseen force that tosses her nearly 20 feet in the air and then, just a short time later, drags her through an old barn as she’s trying to convalesce from the heinous fall. Beyond that, Sandberg also gives us one of the creepiest scarecrows I’ve seen in some time, and a few other unexpected otherworldly delights that I don’t want to go into much further, as it would probably ruin some stuff. But suffice to say, Sandberg and Annabelle: Creation earn that R rating.
At the forefront of Creation are Bateman and Wilson (who gave me chills with her turn in the aforementioned Ouija: Origin of Evil), who both deliver fantastic performances. The actresses share an infectious chemistry together, and I enjoyed watching their dynamic shift throughout the prequel, as poor Janice can’t escape being a punching bag for the evil forces lurking inside the Mullins house, and Linda desperately wants to help her friend, but isn’t sure of how exactly to do just that. The actresses have a natural camaraderie in Annabelle: Creation, which makes them easy to invest in as characters you want to see survive the horrors of the Mullins house.
Also, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the amazing production design by Jennifer Spence for Annabelle: Creation (seriously, you could get lost in the details of the Mullins’ house), and the inventive and stunning camerawork from cinematographer Maxime Alexandre (who has also lensed a slew of other great modern genre films like High Tension, The Hills Have Eyes remake, The Crazies remake, the Maniac remake, as well as the dark comedy The Voices). The contributions of both creative individuals really elevate the overall look and feel of Annabelle: Creation, and it was easy to get immersed in Sandberg’s world because of their combined efforts.
And for those of you who are curious, Creation does tie into the original Annabelle and we also get nods to The Conjuring as well as the real-life haunted doll, too. I won’t go into specifics because I don’t want to ruin the fun, but for those of you on the hunt for some Easter eggs, Sandberg has incorporated several that you should definitely enjoy discovering in his latest project.
With Annabelle: Creation, Sandberg successfully moves the James Wan-iverse forward with an unyielding sense of glee, and I think he’s done something very special with his latest film. I may not have been someone who needed another Annabelle movie, but I’m so glad it was Sandberg who was behind it, because his pure passion for classic horror oozes through in every single frame, and I really had a blast with it. I wouldn’t call it “scary” by any means for those of us who eat, sleep, and breathe horror, but Sandberg has managed to create something of an entertaining roller coaster ride that never lets up once the director lets the evil in Creation go full throttle.
Movie Score: 4/5
The post Laff 2017 Review: Annabelle: Creation is a Clever Mix of Old-School Horror Tricks appeared first on Daily Dead. »
- Heather Wixson
Remember back when French horror was a big deal in the genre? Films like High Tension, Inside, Martyrs, and Frontier(s) were the epitome of “extreme horror” and shocked audiences the world over. But with any glut and explosion of genre… Continue Reading →
The post Volker Gives Us Four French Horror Films You May Have Missed appeared first on Dread Central. »
- Jonathan Barkan
Kayti Burt Apr 21, 2017
According to Variety, the film is based on an original idea from Wan about a family placed in witness protection in a smart house, capable of fighting off any attacks (hopefully). When a group of assassins discover the location of the family, the smart house's capabilities are put to the test.
Alexandre Aja is attached to direct the film. Aja is best known for his horror work on Horns, Piranha 3D, and The Hills Have Eyes. Smart House seems right up his alley, and will presumably skew more horror than action thriller. The script comes from Brad Keene, »
Lionsgate has acquired the rights to James Wan’s thriller Smart House, which will see the Saw director act as producer and High Tension‘s Alexandre Aja direct. The film is based on an idea by Wan, and the script is being… Continue Reading →
- Jonathan Barkan
“Smart House” is based on an original idea by Wan — whose credits include the Conjuring franchise, “Furious 7” and the upcoming “Aquaman.” He will produce the film under his Atomic Monster company banner with head of production Michael Clear.
“Smart House” is a thriller about a family in the witness protection program placed in the custody of a state of the art, autonomous ‘smart house.’ When a group of assassins locates the family, the house goes into a lethal defense mode.
- Dave McNary
This year’s South by Southwest lineup was surprisingly vacant of scare-focused horror – Midnighters selection included – but Lake Bodom lessened the sting of such programming. Taneli Mustonen’s Finnish thriller is an old-school slasher turned upside-down, happily defying perceptions that drive generic genre constructs. It’s based on an actual 1960s cold-case, where four campers were carved up in their tent (three died, one lived) – yet this is no retelling. Mustonen and co-writer Aleksi Hyvärinen adopt one of many floated media theories as fact, and mold a hellish camping trip around the discussed hypothesis. Maybe it’s true, maybe it’s not. That doesn’t make Lake Bodom any less interesting.
It all starts as many teenage slashers do. Two boys – Elias (Mikael Gabriel) and Atte (Santeri Helinheimo Mäntylä) – and two attractive females – Nora (Mimosa Willamo) and Ida (Nelly Hirst-Gee) – head off on a weekend getaway. The girls think they »
- Matt Donato
France has a rich history of horror. There’s the sadomasochistic novels of the Marquis de Sade as well as the blood and guts of Grand Guignol theatre. In cinema, the horror lineage runs deep. There’s Georges Méliès’ shorts and trick films (The Haunted Castle , The Four Troublesome Heads ); the eye-slicing of Salvador Dalí and Luis Buñuel’s Un chien andalou (1929); Georges Franju’s nauseating documentary on slaughterhouses, Blood of the Beasts (1949), as well as his clinical and poetic Eyes Without a Face (1960); there’s Henri-Georges Clouzot’s nasty Diabolique (1955); and the rotting poetry of Jean Rollin’s collective work. Flash forward a few decades, to the mid-1990s and 2000s, where we find the intense and brutal "New French Extremity" films by Philippe Grandrieux, Bruno Dumont, Gaspar Noé, Marina de Van, and others. And there are the genre filmmakers creating work around the same time as the more »
Colin Geddes, an international programmer at the Toronto International Film Festival, is stepping down after two decades at Tiff. Geddes was responsible for programming the festival’s Midnight Madness and Vanguard sections. Geddes’ programming associate Peter Kuplowsky will take over the role of Tiff programmer for Midnight Madness.
Read More: Why Tiff’s Midnight Madness Program Attracts Cinephiles From Around the World Every Year
Geddes will continue his work as curator for the horror streaming service Shudder, and serve as co-artistic director of the historic Royal Cinema in Toronto with his wife Katarina Gligorijević. He will also continue working as an executive producer and consulting producer. Some of his recent producing credits include the horror-thriller “Replace,” which will screen for buyers at the Berlin Film Festival’s European Film Market, the 2014 documentary “Why Horror?” and the comedy-drama “He Never Died” starring Henry Rollins.
Geddes joined Tiff in 1997 after being hired »
- Graham Winfrey
James McAvoy possesses multiple personalities in an ambitious supernatural thriller that could nonetheless do with a few scares
I’m in two minds about M Night Shyamalan’s multiple personality thriller. On the one hand, thanks to James McAvoy’s agility juggling the many people who inhabit the head of Kevin Wendell Crumb, it marks a definite return to form for Shyamalan. On the other, as with so many of the convoluted high concepts that he grapples with, there’s a laboured quality to the storytelling, as if the screenplay is always running to catch up with the ambition of the conceit.
Although there is less of the visceral brutality of Alexandre Aja’s Switchblade Romance, there is something of that film’s oppressive threat here. The three girls kidnapped by two of Kevin’s renegade personalities are imprisoned in a set designer’s dream job – a network of subterranean »
- Wendy Ide
Paris – Daouda Coulibaly’s Mali-set “Wulu,” Sebastian Marnier’s “Faultless”and Thomas Kruithof’s “The Eavesdropper” form part of a gaggle of crime thrillers and sci-fi/fantasy movies unspooling at the 19th UniFrance Rendez-Vous with French Cinema, France’s annual national film showcase.
In volume, they do not represent the most numerous film type at that market; that crown belongs to comedies, accounting for 32 of the 76 movies screening there. But some of the crime thrillers are among the best-reviewed films at Rendez-Vous.
“Who doesn’t love a good sociopath? In novelist-director Sébastien Marnier’s feature debut “Faultless,” he conjures up a doozy,” Variety wrote, calling “The Eavesdropper” (aka “Scribe”) “a timely political thriller told with flair” and “Wulu” “an auspicious debut.”
- John Hopewell
10 items from 2017
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