Annabelle: Creation (2017)

What’s the bet the Scarecrow is next in line for its own spin off?

Several years after the tragic death of their little girl, a doll maker and his wife welcome a nun and several girls from a shuttered orphanage into their home, soon becoming the target of the doll maker’s possessed creation, Annabelle.

Let’s be real for a moment. We all thought Annabelle: Creation was a prequel nobody was asking for, for a spin off no one was really interested in. We all tried to quickly forget about the disastrous 2014 Annabelle, but how could we forget when the film kept ranking in those dollars and it was quickly announced there would be sequel… As a world we collectively groaned. But, a sequel it was not, no, we were gifted with a prequel to a prequel… and my lord… it is actually good!

David F. Sandberg follows up from his 2016 chilling debut Lights Out by taking the reigns and breathing new life into the Conjuring universe with Annabelle: Creation. By no means, does Creation break any new ground, but it is a surprisingly engaging spook-fest that features some genuinely terrifying imagery, clearly influenced from Sandberg’s short film ‘Attic Panic’.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fjck1TNXXhI 

Sandberg clearly has style and is well versed in the land of chills and thrills. Creation indulges in your normal horror tropes but Sandberg is clever never to repeat the scare twice.

The film does have its flaws though. The final act tends to drag, but it also gives us a fantastic barn sequence that is utterly terrifying! Where I forgot just how fucking scary scarecrows can be! Pegging itself as a creation story though is a bit of a stretch. As the actual creation story is told quite quickly in a heavy flashback sequence, which leaves the mythology of Annabelle a little muddled and unclear.

Annabelle: Creation is pleasant treat, it falters here and there with cliché horror territory but Sandberg’s style is highly present and alluring. The film is littered with easter eggs and a cute nod to the ‘real’ story of Annabelle. Overall, it’s a welcome addition to a franchise that hopefully continues to grow in strength, style and originality.

7.0 / 10

“Forgive me, Father, for I am about to sin”

Wait Until Dark (1967)

Audrey Hepburn… seeing through men’s bullshit since 1967…

A recently blinded woman (Hepburn) is terrorized by a trio of thugs while they search for a heroin stuffed doll they believe is in her apartment.

Based on the stage play by Frederick Knott, but brought to the silver screen in 1967 by Terence Young, Wait Until Dark is a cunning, tight paced thriller, with a refreshing twist on the home invasion subgenre.

Leading lady, Audrey Hepburn, is truly a star. She is absolutely mesmerizing on screen and adeptly plays the insecure and visually challenged character with such bravado and confidence. The villains are equally as good, with a young Alan Arkin who is chillingly manic and Richard Crenna who is manipulative yet shows a softer side of sympathy.

It’s clever twists and turns are reminiscent of Hitchcock’s Dial M for Murder, which funnily enough was a screenplay also penned by Frederick Knott. The film’s single location creates a tense and claustrophobic atmosphere and the dialogue heavy script is a treat to behold.

Wait Until Dark is an elegant timeless classic and an enthralling ride from start to finish. Fans of the home invasion subgenre should certainly seek this treasure out, if not for the script then for the lovely miss Audrey Hepburn who captivatingly puts the pieces of this suspicious puzzle together.

8.5 / 10

“How would you like to do something difficult and terribly dangerous?”

Alien (1979)

In space no one can hear you scream…  

After a space merchant vessel perceives an unknown transmission as a distress call, its landing on the source moon finds one of the crew attacked by a mysterious life form, and they may soon realize that its life cycle has merely begun.

It all started in 1979… Ridley Scott would fashion such a cult classic that would later spawn off seven more films those being three sequels, two prequels and two god awful crossovers. It was 1979 where we realised a haunted house could be taken into space. Instead the haunted house here being the Nostromo, and instead of a ghost terrorizing our characters it would be one motherfuckin’ tall terrifying alien… or later commonly known by the cute name of a Xenomorph.

Alien is a superbly crafted space thriller that blends science fiction into horror, creating a modern classic with one of the most iconic deaths in the genre. The pacing is tight and tense, the use of jump scares is effective and Ridley forms one of cinemas strongest female heroes, Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver – who is such a banger in this!)

Presented as one of horrors top films, Alien is terrifyingly terrific and an old nightmare that is worthy of revisiting.

8.0 / 10

“I admire its purity”

A Ghost Story (2017)

Sheet happens…

In an exploration of legacy, love, loss and the enormity of existence, a recently deceased white sheeted ghost returns to his suburban home to try and reconnect with his bereft wife.

Raise your hands if you love A24! raises both hands, amen!

The studio famously behind such personal favourites; The Witch, Ex Machina, Green Room, It Comes At Night, The Monster have released yet another stunner with, A Ghost Story. David Lowery reunites with Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara for his poignant, yet curiously haunting tale which comes from the perspective of a ghost. This definitely will not be for everyone’s taste. It is film that demands great patience and an open mind. It’s a piece that requires no thought, but instead an almost Zen like state of mind.

A Ghost Story is so god damn beautiful. The cinematography gracefully floats this way and that way, whilst the atmosphere holds a sense cosmic lyricism. Lowery’s depiction of what happens after we die is achingly sad, his expression of what life, love, loss and time means is an inventive and artistic expression that leaves you feeling emotionally devastated. In what feels like a very personal film, Lowery angles the film at a voyeuristic approach. Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara share such an incredible screen presence and chemistry between each other, at times I felt like I was intruding on a private moment between the two.

With its tongue in cheek Halloween costume approach, A Ghost Story is an ethereal piece that is original, profound, and good… it is devastatingly good… you just have to let yourself sink into the story.

8.0 / 10

“What is it you like about this house so much?”
“History”

The Orphanage (2007)

 

Creer esta viendo…

A woman (Belen Rueda) brings her family back to her childhood home, which used to be an orphanage for handicapped children. Before long, her son starts to communicate with an invisible new friend.

Stepping back into 2007, J.A Bayona delivered an exceptional directorial debut with producing partner Guillermo Del Toro with the Spanish chiller, The Orphanage.

What could only be deemed as a beautifully crafted haunted house horror The Orphanage is a merited cult classic that is genuinely chilling, exceptionally detailed and most importantly a clever script that delves not only into spooks but into the real terrors of loss, bereavement and parental responsibility. Not only is the script remarkable, but the cinematography is gracefully breathtaking and the movie is soaked in a constant rich tense atmosphere.

Belen Rueda is riveting here and while constantly dealing with her ghosts that are both literal and figurative, Rueda always seem to be on the edge of an emotional breakdown.

The Orphanage is an emotional horror that surely packs a punch in its final act. It has all the clichés there, but Bayona handles them with such care and elegance that at its core this haunting ghost story is not only beautiful but tremendously sad.

 7.5 / 10

“Seeing is not believing. It’s the other way around. Believe, and you will see”

Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)

Did anyone stop to think that maybe the monster is just deeply misunderstood?

A strange prehistoric beast lurks in the depths of the Amazonian jungle. A group of scientists try to capture the animal and bring it back to civilization for study.

Creature from the Black Lagoon is a cult classic that has aged like fine wine. Timeless and elegant this 1954 creature feature from Jack Arnold is incredibly eerie and revolutionary for its time with definitive underwater sequences that play like a mad ballet.

A member of the Universal Monster legacy from the golden age of cinema the Creature is a terrifying (but masterful) creation of half man and half fish, with a costume that is sickeningly frightful. We are gifted with genuinely frightening imagery as we spy the Creature lurking just beneath the surface of water, whilst mimicking the lazy movements of bombshell Julie Adams (Kay) as she unknowingly dangles her long lovely white legs into the grips of a misunderstood gill man.

Creature from the Black Lagoon is terrifically entertaining and is heralded as a memorable icon of horrors greatest villains. This black and white classic not only boasts impressive underwater photography, but also a little bit of magic that shouldn’t be overlooked.

8.5 / 10

“We didn’t come here to fight monsters”

The Beguiled (2017)

I hope you like apple pie…

 The unexpected arrival of a wounded Union soldier at a girl’s school in Virginia during the American civil war leads to jealousy and betrayal.

The Beguiled is the second adaption of the Thomas P. Cullinan novel, The Painted Devil, the first motion picture coming from 1971 helmed by Don Siegel and starring Clint Eastwood. Today comes Sofia Coppola’s version, a beautiful moody atmospheric piece drenched in sexuality and elegance.

Coppola’s elegant thriller is a quiet and slow suspenseful drama, led by an all star cast – Nicole Kidman, who undoubtedly shines the brightest, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning and the always gorgeous Colin Farrell.

This gothic thriller is a wonder for the eyes, the costumes are marvellous and the cast are a spectacle to behold. Overall the film is elegant brilliance, however as soon as the dance of desire leads to terror Coppola fails to keep the tension tight and an unclear third act punch never feels fully conveyed as to whether vengeance was at play or not.

The Beguiled is a stir crazy mix of awakening sexuality, with ensuing flirtation and manipulations that lead to menacing and steamy scenes. Coppola is a woman of style and skill but this atmospheric remake never quite manages to be the pulpy psychodrama it should have been.

7.0 / 10

“There is nothing more frightening than a startled woman with a gun”

Insidious: Chapter Three (2015)

To be honest I hope we get a whole book of Insidious films…

 A prequel set before the haunting of the Lambert family that reveals how gifted psychic Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) reluctantly agrees to use her ability to contact the dead in order to help a teenage girl who has been targeted by a dangerous supernatural entity.

James Wan’s partner in crime, Leigh Whannell, who has previously been attached to Wan’s projects (Saw, Dead Silence, Insidious) as either writer, co-producer, or even sometimes actor, now finally steps up and takes the reigns and sits in the director’s chair for his own entry into the franchise with, Insidious: Chapter Three.

What comes as a surprising improvement from Chapter 2, Chapter 3 delves into prequel territory with dread filled atmosphere and jump scares that come with a gasp and a giggle. Whannell who is a long time player in the horror genre, cleverly utilizes the feeling of claustrophobia with keeping our leading lady, Quinn (Stefanie Scott), immobilized and unable to escape any lurking threats.

Although not as terrifying as the original, this haunted house number builds it tension with care with a few legitimately frightening moments and a villainous demon that will chill you to your very core.

6.5 / 10

“If you call out to one of the dead, all of them can hear you”

It Comes At Night (2017)

Some would say it certainly does NOT come at night…

Secured within a desolate home as an unnatural threat terrorizes the world, a man has established a tenuous domestic order with his wife and son, but this will soon be put to test when a desperate young family arrives seeking refuge.

Where to begin? It Comes At Night is absolutely brilliant! Trey Edward Shults follows up his festival favourite ‘Krisha’ with an impressive and well executed tense cabin in the woods psychological thriller, It Comes At Night.

What comes as a surprise is how polarising this film has been, and it’s easy enough to notice that it’s between those who watched the trailers and those who didn’t. I fall in the latter… so naturally I adored the film. The initial poster was all I saw and that was enough to grab my attention.

It’s a true shame to see audiences so hot and bothered over the film. I’ve now seen how A24 has handled the marketing and truthfully it was cheeky of them to promote this film as the next kind of Blumhouse scare fest project, but those already familiar with the studio would recognise their niche taste in art house horror, particularly with Robert Eggers The Witch, which also split audiences in two. Like The Witch, It Comes At Night delves into creepy and unnerving imagery that depicts humanity at its darkest. Expectations should be put aside here and with a second look its hard to see how haters could not see there is real finesse here.

It Comes At Night is an insanely rich and one of the most beautiful shot films of the year. It’s a character driven nightmarish tale that never lets up on its constant sense of uncertainty and unease. The performances are raw, emotional and haunting. Joel Edgerton is a force to be reckoned with and by far this is his best performance yet, he easily steals every scene he is in. Christopher Abbott too is a breath of fresh air and Kelvin Harrison Jr is no doubts a youthful break through star in the wings.

Shults proves once more that what is left unseen can sometimes be so much more terrifying. Yes, there are demons here, but they are the demons we personally battle with and It Comes At Night is a intense look of what fear can turn a person into.

The films does leave a lot of questions unanswered that are difficult to overlook, but the dramatic tension and skilful performances will win you over. Heartbreaking and ultimately bleak It Comes At Night is a marvel, that shouldn’t have its misleading marketing ruin its reputation.

9.0 / 10

“You can’t trust anyone but family”

An American Werewolf In London (1981)

“Winston Churchill was full of shit… Shakespeare’s French…. Fuck… Shit… Cunt… Shit” … Yeah that scene pretty much sums the tonal feel for this iconic creature feature.

Two America college students on a walking tour of Britain are attacked by a werewolf that none of the locals will admit exists.

My my my… An American Werewolf in London is clearly timeless. Director/Writer John Landis, more commonly known for The Blues Brothers (1980), but for us horror enthusiasts will find him more memorable for his cult classic horror / comedy An American Werewolf in London (1981).

American Werewolf may in fact be the best werewolf film there is, it is iconic horror at its finest. Landis cleverly balances the humour and horror so perfectly that he has created a film with real quirkiness and charm. The dialogue is witty and the performances of David Naughton (David) and Griffin Dunne (Jack) are exceptional. There chemistry with each other is so loveable and goofy.

The real star of the screen though is the jaw dropping makeup and practical effects. It is an absolute marvel to behold! The transformation scene is so god damn flawless, it is grisly and painful to watch. There is also the ghastly cadaver of Jack who is gooey gory goodness! It is no wonder that makeup man extraordinaire Rick Baker would go onto win an Oscar for the film.

An American Werewolf is proof that CGI is a tool overused in todays features and it pains me to know there is a remake in development… It eases my soul a little to know that at least the current director attached is John Landis’s son, Max Landis. But, how you could compete with a cult classic is lost on me!

An American Werewolf in London is breath taking! It succeeds on all fronts in horror and humour. It will carefully stray into campiness, but never stay there for too long and how could you forget a film with that ending! I am still deciding on whether it was the worst or absolutely best cut to credits ever!

8.5 / 10

“I will not be threatened by a walking meat loaf!”