Tag Archives: suspense

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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A Cure for Wellness (2017) Review

Published by: Anthony Wallace


cureforwellnessposterComing from the director who brought us ‘The Ring‘ and the first three films in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, Gore Verbinski returns to direct a psychological thriller in ‘A Cure for Wellness‘. The film stars Dane DeHaan, Jason Isaacs, and Mia Goth as the movie centers around a representative of a company, Mr. Lockhart, who is sent to retrieve a fellow colleague, Mr. Pembroke, who is staying at an institution due to health reasons. However, once he arrives and discovers that the institution is keeping their motives and methods of operation in the dark, Lockhart scrambles for answers before he himself gets stuck there forever.

The trailer got me interested in seeing the movie mainly because Dane DeHaan was in it and the startling imagery that gave me the impression that the story was going to be good. Gore Verbinski is a great director and can find ways in getting under the audience’s skin. This is why his latest film, although had some decent performances out of DeHaan and Isaacs and some creepy visual effects, struggled from a narrative point of view and wasn’t always in focus.

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One of the things this movie reminded me of was of ‘Shutter Island‘ (2010) and how Dehaan’s character, Lockhart, is sent to a location that’s isolated and gets caught up in a scheme. Of course, the main characters of each film had different motivations but they did share similar character traits. And just as we saw in ‘Shutter Island‘, there is a girl involved but only this time she is an innocent who unbenounced to her is in danger. So given there were similarities between the two movies I did enjoy some aspects nonetheless by Verbinski.

This is a visually appealing film to watch and I thoroughly enjoyed a scene that shows Lockhart arriving to the institution by car. Just that scene alone and the locations in which the movie was filmed took my breathe away. From an aesthetic point of view everything looked amazing. We then get into the performances by Dehaan and Isaacs who individually held their own up until the very end which is where there were problems in the narrative that needed to be addressed.

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When watching the film it really took its time building the narrative and for subsequent events to occur. Sometimes the movie dragged on a little bit too much and there were times when I wondered when something would happen. A lot of the suspense scenes you see in the trailer is unfortunately given away and thus makes the movie feel even more of a drag. As we approach the climax of the movie and after all the talk about the townspeople and how there’s been fear of the institution it leads up to a big ball of confusion. And that’s where the narrative failed to weave the needle in a coherent way that eventually fails in its own mess.

It’s not to say the movie is terrible because Dane DeHaan was great along with Jason Isaacs. And as mentioned earlier the locations in which the film was made are stunning to look at. However, with the narrative mess and inconsistencies throughout I just couldn’t appreciate it as much as I could have. I’d say this not as good as ‘Shutter Island‘ nor does it succeed as a whole from an entertainment point of view. Go into ‘A Cure for Wellness‘ with low expectations and just enjoy the visual appeal that it presents.

Rating: 5.5/10

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What do you guys think of ‘A Cure for Wellness‘? Are you planning on seeing it? Comment below and share your thoughts.

Split (2016/17) Review

Published by: Anthony Wallace


split_red-692x1024From the director who brought us ‘The Sixth Sense‘, ‘Signs‘, and 2015’s ‘The Visit‘, M. Night Shymalan returns with a suspense thriller that stars James McAvoy and Anya Taylor-Joy. When Casey Cooke and her friends are captured by somebody with multiple personalities, they must race to find answers as to whom they’re dealing with and whether or not escape will even be possible. After coming off of a mediocre effort in Shymalan’s last movie, are we continuing to seeing a revival of the director’s career? Let’s find out.

**For the purposes of the film, I will be referring to McAvoy’s character as Kevin.**

This was definitely an unsettling movie and not in the way of violence but more so in how great of a performance we get from James McAvoy. His characters suffers from a condition called Disassociative Identity Disorder (DID) and portrays over 23 personalities that all came to be over a dark past. With this in mind, it takes us to the plot which is evident in the trailers as Casey and her friends are captured by Kevin and are then placed in an undisclosed location. We then see the different personalities come to light and in which Casey tries hard to piece together a way out. But a repetitive reference to “The Beast” raises alarms as to whether or not a deeper more menacing figure looms in the shadows.

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Having said everything thus so far and with what little is known, it’s best not to give any more details without possibly spoiling the film. All that will be said is that James McAvoy puts on a challenging performance; especially when you’re encompassing 23 characters in one body. There were moments when you felt fear for Casey, who’s played by Anya Taylor-Joy, who comes face to face with him and you never know who you would be talking to next. What also caught my attention was to the story behind Casey and how her upbringing was met with a dark past herself that I thought would later play out in the movie. But it didn’t go the way I expected.

We’re also introduced to Dr. Karen Fletcher, played by Betty Buckley, who is the psychiatrist that Kevin goes to visit. She was very good and I liked her role as this person who truly cares about him. You could sense it from the start and it wasn’t like she was meant to be written off very quick. We’re able to get a bit of exposition as to why Kevin is the way he is when the two characters are together. Their chemistry was awesome; although later on I will get into issues that I had when certain things would happen. Overall, Buckley did a great job.

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If you’re getting the hint that things didn’t pan out as I had expected while watching the movie then most likely it’s because of the direction of the script. The movie started strong but by the third act that’s when the wheels on train begins to fall apart. As seen in the trailer when McAvoy begins to climb on the walls and is running around like a demon in distress, it left me still trying to piece together how this entity breaks through the sound barrier. Because everything that involved the DID made it seem believable that a person could be this way. There was a believability factor that existed and that was one of the reasons that made everything else that was happening that more terrifying. But once “The Beast” as they say appears it sort of ruined it for me because it felt like we entered into another dimension. It could’ve been handled better.

Now let’s get to the elephant in the room which is in regards to the twist. Every M. Night Shymalan has some element of a twist in his movies and for ‘Split’ it is no different. I will not however go into detail about what that twist may entail because it is something for the audience to stumble upon for themselves. As far as my reaction to the twist I thought it was an interesting decision by the director and that’s all I will say to that.

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Where does ‘Split‘ stand against Shymalans’ other projects is that it’s a hit or miss but is definitely one of his better efforts. It’s directed with care and has good performances by the actors. Again, it goes back to the script and the direction the movie is trying to head towards can sometimes get lost in translation. The movie reminds me a lot of ‘Identity‘ (2003), where from a psychological point of view you’re not sure who’s character is really screwed up. For a January release, the movie is surprisingly fresh and forgoes the dump machine that many studios rely on.

Rating: 7/10

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Are you planning on watching ‘Split‘? Which M. Night Shymalan movie is your favorite? Comment below and share your thoughts.

The Disappointments Room (2016) Review

Published by: Anthony Wallace


v1-btsxmjixmteyottqoze3mta2ozeymda7njqxozk0oqFrom Relativity Media comes the story about a family who move into their new home in the country side. When a room is discovered on the attic floor it reveals the grueling details of the secrets families kept as it regarded kids with disabilities or deformities. Soon after, Dana must find a way to keep her family safe as a vengeful entity terrorizes her and her family. The film is directed by D.J. Caruso and stars Kate Beckinsale.

Based on true events we follow Dana, an architect, as she stumbles upon a room in the attic that leads to a disappointments room where children were put in when families tried to secretly deny their child’s existence who has a deformity. The concept and loose tellings about such events caught my attention when a trailer was released and didn’t give away too much about the plot. With that said, this was such a disappointment as the title of the film suggests. There apparently weren’t any early screenings for critics nor are there many reviews up on Rotten Tomatoes which suggests an embargo may have been put in place. Even without going into detail so far, you’re probably thinking where this review is headed.

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The premise of the film caught my attention and what I wanted to learn more was why or how such rooms were constructed and the families involved. Unfortunately, very little is told in the movie and what’s even worse is how hollow the story involved with the home Dana and her family move into. We then get into the movie itself that is unsure what it wanted to be as it goes from being a mystery to a drama and then at times goes into a thriller. This reminded me of ‘Cold Creek Manor‘ back in 2003 as far as the pacing and where the movie was headed. A promising start just spirals into chaos and just gets worse and worse and worse.

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Let’s talk about Kate Beckinsale because her character is a mess. She’s a caring mother who suffers from depression after a traumatic events that persuades her husband in moving the family to the countryside. Dana starts seeing things and eventually you as the viewer aren’t sure what you’re seeing which then leads into bigger problems as the movie progresses. And how the movie handles her past to dealing with the room and the ghosts that follows is mind-boggling numb to watch. There is no clear connection between her depression and the ghost that is terrorizing her nor is it cohesive from a narrative sense. Many times her performance was cringeworthy; especially during the times when she is confronting her husband when something happens to her.

It’s hard to continue on bashing the film because there’s just so much to talk about without giving away any spoilers. Again, the premise got my attention and what I wanted to get was a story – thriller or horror- that would build up the suspense as the lead character pieces together the clues that would make you want to care for them. Unfortunately, ‘The Disappointments Room‘ is packaged in mystery but once you dig into the film it becomes a jumbled mess from story to character development to the resolve at the end. If you want to do justice it’s best to research the disappointments rooms rather then paying for something that you’ll get very little in details.

Rating: 3.5/10

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What do you guys think? Are you planning to watch ‘The Disappointments Room‘? Comment below and share your thoughts.

The Boy (2016) Review

Published by: Anthony Wallace


MV5BMTc1MjcxNzcwMV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMTE0NTE2NzE@._V1_SY317_CR0,0,214,317_AL_When a new nanny arrives at the Heelshire home, Greta Evans discovers she won’t be taking care of any ordinary child. In this case, Brahms, a doll that the Heelshires believe is their son. Soon after they leave, Greta begins to suspect that Brahms isn’t just a doll and soon questions her sanity as to believe that Brahms is really alive. The film is directed by William Brent Bell and stars ‘The Walking Dead‘s own Lauren Cohen and Rupert Evans.

I was a little curious going into ‘The Boy‘ because I thought the trailer peaked my interest with the idea of a doll being disguised as someone’s own child. Then another part of me went into the movie thinking that this would end up like all doll films. After viewing the film all of my expectations came true, however, a twist followed that I’m not sure if I saw coming or not. It was nice to see Lauren Cohen be in a horror film; especially from her successes on television. The one thing that I thought worked well was her character and how she wasn’t written as your typical go against the rules idiot. There were times she grew attached to Brahms and could relate to the family’s loss when Brahms died in a fire. Then there were other times when she didn’t know how to approach the whole situation seeing as how she’s interacting with a doll and not a real person.

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One of the few positives I’ll give was how the movie looked. Having that old Victorian home and the interior design gave the movie that edginess feel. And props to the creators of the doll and how they made Brahms seem so real from what he looked like in character form. The parents, played by Jim Norton and Diana Hardcastle, were great as they tended to Brahms and nurtured him as if he were still alive. And the normalcy they were to the situation made you feel for them in some way. This again would tie nicely with Cohen’s character of Greta when she relates her story to Brahms.

At this point in the review is where things go downhill. Going into the movie I had mentioned that I may or may not have expected something to happen. Believe it or not, when the twist is revealed at the end, my gut feeling was right. And for a second your like oh this works and it caught me off guard. But the next second your disappointed because the twist isn’t executed effectively as it should have. And after thinking about it more after leaving the theater you wish to think maybe they should’ve gone away with the twist altogether. And if I continue on with my explanation things will get spoiled so it will be left at that.

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We must mention Rupert Evans as the Heelshire’s grocery man, Malcolm. He was decent and had good chemistry with Lauren Cohen. He may not have had a major role but his curiosity and intrigue in the story behind Brahms helped to give Greta better insight into what may actually be taking place. Surprisingly enough, the movie doesn’t go outside of the home very much. One of the possible reasons being that it was on a low budget of $10 million*. And by having a PG-13 rating the studio is sure to get more of a return on investment as the movie is clearly targeted for the younger audience.

In the end, ‘The Boy‘ struggles to identify whether it wants to be a horror film or a straight up thriller. With the twist at the end it becomes more clear that the movie was confused in what it actually wanted to be. There are some genuine jumps here and there but primarily it’s left to the imagination as to whether or not Brahms is real or not. And for the first two-thirds of the movie it was effective but then it falls into cliche territory with not much explained.

Rating: 5/10

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What do you guys think? Do you plan to watch ‘The Boy‘? Comment below and share your thoughts.

*Source: Box Office Mojo

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi (2015) Review

Published by: Anthony Wallace


MV5BMjU3OTQ5NDc3Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwOTEwNTkxNzE@._V1_SX214_AL_It was September 11, 2012 when a U.S. compound in Libya was attacked by armed militants where a U.S. Ambassador and four others were killed. Based on a true story, Director Michael Bay takes on the Benghazi event and how it unfolded as six CIA Operatives bravely tried to rescue their fellow commarades. With uncertainty which Libyan citizens are to be trusted, the CIA feverishly try to gain footing on a battle that may not be won.

There has been so much speculation about the Benghazi story that even till this day we are finding out little by little of what actually led up to the attack. But leaving politics aside, we focus solely on the movie at hand. Michael Bay is very well known for making blockbuster action films such as ‘Bad Boys‘ (1995) and ‘The Rock‘ (1996) to the lesser received ‘Armageddon‘ (1998) which would mark the peak of his career. Since then it’s been a hit or miss over the last 15 years with so much effort put into the Transformers series where he’s held an iron grip. One thing he has going for him is that Bay can pull your attention from the start. He’s not shy in the amount of action he displays on screen. Which is why going into production on an action drama where there’s so much unrest in the Middle East is different from what we’ve come to see from Bay.

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For the purposes of this review we won’t need to reference the actors by name because most of the film is centered on a U.S. compound being attacked. The characters we follow all have some kind of likability to them and as is in all Bay films we get plenty of comic relief when it’s needed. Some of the action sequences are pretty intense with there being plenty of bullets to shed on screen. There are even some scenes that aren’t for the squeamish towards the latter end of the film. What’s done effectively is that when you assume things are cooling off your only to be fooled and the action picks right back up again. This happens a few times during the film which helps to carry things right along.

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There were a few problems with the movie and the first thing that will be mentioned is the runtime. At two and a half hours the movie had difficulties balancing the heavy action. There’d also be points where dialogue between characters would carry on way too long as we are waiting for something to happen. It’s not that we don’t like to see people converse about their families or stories from their pasts but a lot of the film struggles to balance it out. In what could’ve been a 90 minute affair it unfortunately turns into a drag out experience where your just waiting for the white flag to be raised. Also, for a movie that’s supposed to be taken seriously you get a lot of comic relief moments. It was a little bizarre to see a city go into turmoil to only see somebody watching a soccer game and not be phased by it; almost like it’s a norm. And finally, with so much going on and you trying to understand who is and who aren’t the good guys your left at times being confused.

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For those who are into action films you may find this appealing to watch even if it does have it’s fair share of problems like a bloated runtime. But with characters you come to like over time you do root for their survival and hopes that things will get better as the film goes on. Although Michael Bay has put out better efforts with more clarity in his films you kind of already know what to expect if your somewhat familiar with the Benghazi story. If not, some viewers may be put off by the back and forth chatter about how we got to this point. There’s plenty to admire in ‘13 Hours‘ but the execution is what hurts this experience which ultimately leads to a weak recommend.

Rating: 6/10

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What do you guys think? Are you planning to watch ’13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi’? Comment below and let us know your thoughts.

The Revenant (2015) Review

Published by: Anthony Wallace


the-revenant-2015-2It technically may have been released back in 2015 but it makes its way in full release this January. Director Alejandro Iñárritu, who was acclaimed for the visually pleasing ‘Birdman‘, returns in a story of revenge and survival. When left to die following a bear attack and seeing his son get murdered, a Frontier man, Hugh Glass, fights his way back to get revenge on the man who took everything away from him. The film sees Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy team together in putting a dramatic and intense effort that pays off in so many ways.

There is so much to like about ‘The Revenant‘ that Alejandro Iñárritu continues to impress not just by the story but the ride you take. Leonardo DiCaprio’s performance was excellent as your invested in his character who already had lost so much to then lose the one thing that mattered most. Alongside DiCaprio is Tom Hardy who plays the character of John Fitzgerald who is more concerned about himself then the well being of others. Even though Hardy’s performance wasn’t at the forefront of the film you still are invested in his character who is only to be despised throughout.

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Aside from the performances we also have to talk about the cinematography cause the movie looked gorgeous. Emmanuel Lubezki, who also did the camera work for ‘Birdman’, also returned to take our breath away by the amazing scenery. Filming took place in Calgary, Alberta, Canada where the flow of the rivers and the rocky mountain tops found dangers from all corners for Glass. Even the location of filming was a character in itself because of the natural beauty and attention put on water streams, snow, and the trees as we saw Glass battle his way for survival.

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One of the things I enjoyed most about ‘The Revenant‘ was that it pulls you in from beginning to end; especially in the opening moments. The scene where Glass gets attacked by the grizzly bear your just imaging how horrifying it would be to be in his place and the brutality that follows. His injuries were hard to watch at times but you couldn’t look away because of DiCaprio’s character’s willingness to fight back. The moments he felt helpless you wanted to see him get back on his feet. The climactic showdown towards the end made the journey all but worth it and more. Together with the performances from Hardy and DiCaprio, ‘The Revenant‘ is a pleaser of a movie and is gorgeous to watch.

In what definitely could be an Oscar performance for Leonardo DiCaprio, ‘The Revenant’ is a thrilling experience. Iñárritu pulls it off once again and can only make one look forward to his next project. Go see ‘The Revenant‘.

Rating: 8/10

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What do you guys think? Have you or are planning to watch the movie? Comment below and tell us your thoughts.