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Annabelle: Creation (2017) Review

Published by: Anthony Wallace


downloadIt’s the prequel to the spin-off that left a sour taste in fan’s mouths when ‘Annabelle‘ released in late 2014. As ‘The Conjuring‘ took the horror genre by storm it was also the start of what would become a world building franchise. The Annabelle doll story was so famously remembered that Warner Bros. ran with the hype and began the project not so long after ‘The Conjuring’ release. Its release was met with lukewarm reactions by fans and critics that it felt more like a cash grab than a full on attempt in making a truly terrifying experience. Which leads us now to ‘Annabelle: Creation‘ and bringing the story full circle.

When Samuel and Esther Mullins lose their daughter in a tragic accident, years later they welcome a nun and foster children to live in their home. But when one of the children, Linda, discovers a doll in a locked room she unwittingly releases an unspeakable evil. As the family begins to take notice of the changes in Linda’s behavior they must gather together to save her soul.

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The interest in another Annabelle film was not something I anticipated or expected seeing as how the last one had ended. Yet the studio had other plans and sought out the director of David F. Sandberg’s  with ‘Lights Out‘. A first time success built confidence in not only the director but in producer James Wan as well. Their collaboration together could make for great cinema. And after watching ‘Annabelle: Creation‘ it can easily be said that the film has put fear back into the cinematic audience.

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What starts as a bright movie about a loving family is suddenly transformed into a moment of tragedy. The tone of the movie easily shifts from moment to moment with ease which eventually leads to nothing but terror by the end. Young actress, Talitha Bateman, plays a paraplegic orphan who goes to forbidden places and the rest is history. One thing that the Conjuring series has done right is by focusing on young talent and their vulnerability to evil. Speaking of which, we should mention a supporting role in Lulu Wilson who plays the friend of Janice. Wilson played the lead in ‘Ouija: Origin of Evil‘ (2016) as a young girl who gets possessed by a demonic spirit after playing with a ouija board. She’s an easy fit for a franchise that has benefited by young actors.

David Sandberg did an amazing job in building suspense with a creepy house and a menacing doll. What benefited Sandberg and what was lacking in the original ‘Annabelle‘ was the proper build up of fear. The use of lights and shadows played effectively here with moments of hair raising fright. Even though the setup may be familiar it certainly was more entertaining to watch. If audiences play close enough attention they’ll also get an easter egg for a cinematic building universe.

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Though the film does a better job at telling a story it does suffer from a lack of major character development. It was even more surprising when a certain character departs after revealing something of importance to one of the children. The movie basically tries to shift between the children characters that we can never get close to any of them. Ultimately it’s the doll that wins and this time it has the proper screen time to prove it. As we get to the ending it makes the connection to the first film. My only gripe would be that the events that precedes this film is a reminder of how much it let me down in the first place.

With that said, ‘Annabelle: Creation‘ is a vast improvement in story-telling with compelling characters and a little something called passion. David Sandberg has succeeded again with the help of James Wan in his corner. Fans of the Conjuring series will rejoice and can only look forward to what the franchise will bring next. If James Wan were to move on from the franchise we can be rest-assured that it will be in good hands with the likes of an up and coming director.

Rating: 7/10

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What do you guys think? Are you planning on watching ‘Annabelle: Creation‘? Is Annabelle a compelling character that needs to be further explored? Comment below and share your thoughts.

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Ouija: Origin of Evil (2016) Review

Published by: Anthony Wallace


ouija_two_xxlg-jpegThe Halloween season is looking quite bare with little scares coming out but all may not be lost as Universal returns to conjure up evil spirits in ‘Ouija: Origin of Evil‘. When Hasbro and Universal teamed up with their original outing back in 2014 with ‘Ouija’, it turned out to be a terrible bland mess of a movie. Audiences weren’t digging; however, the box-office had something else to say as a $5 million* budget landed them $103 million* globally. With a new director in Mike Flanagan, the studio looks to take the Hasbro property in the right direction and give audiences a truly terrifying experience.

Set in the 1960s, a mother of two girls is in the business of fortune telling and scamming her customers in believing they’re making connections with the deceased. However, when her youngest daughter Doris discovers the Ouija board and begins to make connections with the dead, she unwittingly sets loose a demonic spirit that not only devours her soul but endangers her family as well. The film stars Elizabeth Reaser, Annalise Basso, and Lulu Wilson.

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Having seen the original film two years ago it was one of the blandest experiences you can imagine. There was a scrambled story with plot holes that were bigger then the glass of the Ouija piece. Though the production had eerie imagery and nicely shot scenes, it couldn’t bear the weight of its faults. So going forward with Ouija 2 was not something I was looking forward to and when the trailer came out there was already a disposition that wasn’t winning me over. But leading up to its release and favorable reviews by critics I must say that ‘Ouija: Origin of Evil‘ was a vast improvement from its predecessor.

Doing a time piece in the 1960s was a good decision because we got to see an authentic look of how the Ouija board was perceived and giving it a game feel as it was originally marketed as. There also has to be credit given to the production from the lighting to the opening credits and the sequences of terror when Doris comes into contact with spirits that was followed by disturbing imagery. One scene that will be mentioned and was in the trailer was involving Doris and her body folding backwards. When you watch the film and you see exactly what’s happening to her you’ll get goosebumps.

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The acting was a plus, given the fact that the film focused on a mom and her two daughters; whereas in the last outing we didn’t get a sense of connection with the teenagers as they were hunted down one by one while being pretty much disposable. Here we get a reason to care for the characters especially when it involves Alice’s deceased husband and father to their two girls. Elizabeth Reaser plays the mom and was awesome as she tries to make a living while also trying to help people with what she considers a legit way of making a living despite how others would question her as a medium. She’s followed by Lulu Wilson who was genuinely creepy while encountering the spirits that overtakes her body.

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Now having given credit for being a better movie then the original ‘Ouija‘, there are still problems with the movie. For instance, the pacing was all over the place because it starts by taking its time and focuses a lot on Alice and her daughters reminiscing about their long lost father. Then once the possessions take place you’d think the suspense would build and build but instead it takes its time and hardly has moments of real terror. A pastor, played by Henry Thomas, is an example as someone who you’d think would play a bigger part in the movie but the opposite happens and your left shaking your head. Why certain things are happening aren’t fully explained either which was frustrating.

A surprise turnaround with genuinely terrifying imagery and better-then-expected performances, ‘Ouija: Origin of Evil‘ dishes out one of the better experiences going back to 1986’s ‘Witchboard‘ which outlasted it’s less then stellar sequels. After ‘Ouija‘ in 2014 it was stated there could be many sequels in the works. With positive word of mouth it can be safe to say another sequel will be rolled out pending the box-office result considering the lambasting of the original.

Rating: 6.3/10

What do you guys think of ‘Ouija: Origin of Evil‘? Are you planning on watching the movie? Comment below and share your thoughts.

Source: BoxOfficeMojo