Annabelle (2014)

AnnabelleReleased: October 3, 2014. Directed by: John R. Leonetti. Starring: Ward Horton, Annabelle Wallis, Alfre Woodard. Runtime: 98 min.

Do viewers remember that creepy doll named Annabelle from 2013’s “The Conjuring?” Well, regardless of your enjoyment of her, she’s getting the origins treatment. The film opens with background that dolls can both be children’s toys and conduits for inhuman spirits.

The film, based before the account with Ed and Lorraine Warren’s case files, follows a young couple, Mia (Annabelle Wallis) and John (Ward Horton). The couple, who are expecting a baby, are one’s average Church-attending folks, and John is training to become a doctor. As a present, John gives Mia a rare, vintage doll to finish her collection. It’s Annabelle – the creepy, rosy-cheeked porcelain doll in a white wedding dress. The next-door neighbours’ daughter, Annabelle Higgins (Tree O’Toole), ran away to join a cult, and one night she returns to slay her parents. In their brutal wake, Higgins and her boyfriend also invade Mia’s house and conjure a malevolent spirit, and use the Annabelle doll as a conduit.

The haunting starts out innocently – rocking chairs and sewing machines have minds of their own. The frequently absent husband John blames it on pregnancy hormones and the anxieties of the brutal attack. When things get worse after moving from Santa Monica to Pasadena, he suggests marriage counseling – even though priest blessings seem to do a better trick. As you can tell, he’s not smart.

Mia isn’t much smarter. At one point, she gets John to throw the doll in the trash early on – but when she finds Annabelle later in one of the boxes after moving, she doesn’t think to throw her back in the trash. What’s more bothersome about these characters is that they don’t pursue anything. In one instance, Mia and John find drawings that suggest a threat to Mia’s baby, which they assume were drawn by kids in the apartment building. They contemplate asking the young children’s parents about it, but never pursue. Also: The two kids are literally the only two tenants other than Mia, John and Evelyn (a great Alfre Woodard), we see in the apartment the entire film.

Unintelligent character decisions aside, the writing isn’t half-bad. It has a lot of demonic material and the tone feels like a mix between “Rosemary’s Baby” – perhaps the character name Mia is a nod to this film’s star, Mia Farrow – and “Insidious.” The expansion of the “Insidious” universe was great. Granted, the expansion of that universe made historical inaccuracies even more prevalent. The only truth about this film is that Annabelle is an inhuman spirit and that she’s a real doll. Otherwise, it’s a fictional but creative story. The inconsistency within the Warrens universe is confusing. In “The Conjuring,” Annabelle Higgins was murdered at seven years of age; in this film, she is a satanic cultist killed in her early twenties. It’s a more malevolent origin, but it suggests a lack of care from filmmakers.

There’s some poignancy in characterization, specifically found in the character of Evelyn. There’s also psychological horror thrown in for good measure. This doesn’t make “Annabelle” a creepy doll horror in the traditional sense. It has more layers, but it doesn’t have doll catch-phrases or the pitter-patter of doll feet in the apartment. The chills “Annabelle” musters are notable in eerie imagery and basement scenes. Before the Pasadena apartment, the film is only sporadically scary. The apartment building adds a creepier vibe.

Director John R. Leonetti brings his own style to the film and emulates James Wan’s style simultaneously. He uses a lot of bizarre zooms, even in conversations. The zooms exaggerate certain physical features like a comic strip might. The zooms are indicative of both his style and experience as a cinematographer. He rouses unease with these shots, but most are empty images of her doing absolutely nothing. The heightened unsettling score is designed to offer a sense of depth that isn’t there.

Score: 67/100

My most anticipated movies of July

Hi everyone, this is my post for the movies I’m most anticipating this month. I’m going to leave out the ones I’m not anticipating (but will be seeing), because who wants to write a paragraph about a movie they’re not particularly passionate about? (I’m talking about you, GROWN UPS 2.) I’ll be writing reviews about those said movies, but that’s for another day – and I love writing reviews. So, that’s good, then. I’ll start with a few thoughts on the movies I can wait for, but I am looking forward to watching.

Fruitvale Station (7/12)

Fruitvale Station (7/12)

Plot: The true story of Oscar, a 22-year-old Bay Area resident, who crosses paths with friends, enemies, family, and strangers on the last day of 2008.

I like a good bio pic and a good emotional drama, so I’m intrigued by this. It also has critics raving, so I’m hoping it’s good. I thought Michael B. Jordan is great in CHRONICLE, and I like Octavia Spencer in just about anything.

Red 2 (7/19)

Red 2 (7/19)

Plot: Retired black-ops CIA agent Frank Moses reunites his unlikely team of elite operatives for a global quest to track down a missing portable nuclear device.

I can mostly wait for this one because I haven’t seen the first. I own it, so I’ll watch that this week or next or something, and then maybe I’ll be a bit more excited about this one. I love a good crime comedy, and the cast intrigues me.

R.I.P.D. (7/19)

R.I.P.D. (7/19)

Plot: A recently slain cop joins a team of undead police officers working for the Rest in Peace Department and tries to find the man who murdered him.

I don’t know if this will be a box office hit – but it does look very amusing. I love the first and third MIB movies, so I’m pretty intrigued by this. It looks fun, and Jeff Bridges has many great one-liners in the trailer.

The To Do List (J7/26)

The To Do List (7/26)

Plot: Feeling pressured to become more sexually experienced before she goes to college, Brandy Clark makes a list of things to accomplish before hitting campus in the fall.

This looks like a predictable comedy, but it does look very funny. I like EASY A a lot, and this seems to have similar awkward humour. I’m curious to see how Aubrey Plaza will do in her first leading lady role. (I’ve seen a few episodes of TV’s PARKS AND RECREATION and it’s just hilarious.) There are some real laugh-out loud moments in the trailer, especially Clark Gregg’s thoughts on taking the back door.

Turbo (7/17)

Turbo (7/17)

Plot: A freak accident might just help an everyday garden snail achieve his biggest dream: winning the Indy 500.

I like the voice cast and the simple thought of Ken Jeong voicing a little Asian grandma makes me giggle. This looks like DreamWorks Animation’s answer to CARS and FAST & FURIOUS, and maybe even RATATOUILLE (instead of rats and cooking, it’s snails and racing). I think the idea’s just as silly as Stuart Little playing soccer, I mean, this little snail is probably going to get run over. I think I’ll enjoy the movie a lot, regardless.

The Wolverine (7/26)

The Wolverine (7/26)

Plot: Wolverine makes a voyage to modern-day Japan, where he encounters an enemy from his past that will impact on his future.

This looks pretty cool. I’m not huge on superhero movies, but I do enjoy the X-MEN movies. I’ll have to have a marathon soon to pump up for this one a bit more. It looks good, but it could be so much better if Darren Aronofsky really did end up directing it. I guess I’m really just hoping it’s better than X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE.

Now these are the ones I’m really excited for. 

5. Pacific Rim (7/12)

5. Pacific Rim (7/12)

Plot: When an alien attack threatens the Earth’s existence, giant robots piloted by humans are deployed to fight off the menace.

I think this looks awesome. I haven’t seen any GODZILLA movies, but I like a good monster movie. And, this is monsters AND robots. Whoa. It sounds like it could be everything BATTLESHIP and TRANSFORMERS aspired to be. Lots of fun, and well-made. And Del Toro is at the helm! I might have to re-watch CLOVERFIELD and find a GODZILLA movie online this week to get a bit more excited. It seems action-packed, and frankly, I want to see the movie right now, and not just the trailer. But I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of hearing Idris Elba shout, “Today we are cancelling the apocalypse!”

3. Only God Forgives (7/19)

4. Only God Forgives (7/19)

Plot: Julian, a drug-smuggler thriving in Bangkok’s criminal underworld, sees his life get even more complicated when his mother compels him to find and kill whoever is responsible for his brother’s recent death.

I love Ryan Gosling and the director, Nicholas Winding Refn, and DRIVE is one of my favourite movies of 2011. The story intrigues me, as well. While critics haven’t exactly been praising the movie, I think it could be pretty awesome. It might be wavering my expectations ever-so-slightly, but I’m still really looking forward to it.

3. The Conjuring (7/19)

3. The Conjuring (7/19)

Plot: Paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren work to help a family terrorized by a dark presence in their farmhouse. Forced to confront a powerful entity, the Warrens find themselves caught in the most terrifying case of their lives.

I think James Wan is a fantastic director. I’ll have to watch INSIDIOUS to get a vibe of his atmospheric haunting flicks, though. This looks absolutely terrifying, and while I’ll probably be watching the movie through the my fingers, I can hardly wait. Vera Farmiga is great, too. The trailer creeps the hell out of me, and I love it. The true story edge is even spookier – so, I just want it to be July 19 already. It would be great if this will birth a Warren files franchise.

2. The Way, Way Back (7/5)

2. The Way, Way Back (7/5)

Plot: 14-year-old Duncan’s summer vacation with his mother, her overbearing boyfriend, and his daughter. Having a rough time fitting in, Duncan finds an unexpected friend in Owen, manager of the Water Wizz water park.

I love a good coming-of-age tale. THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER is my second-favourite movie of 2012. And THE DESCENDANTS is one of my favourite movies of 2011. Two of the Oscar-winning writers from that movie (Nat Faxon, supporting actor in most of the Broken Lizard movies, and Jim Rash, the Dean on TV’s COMMUNITY) co-write and direct this one. I love the cast so much. Steve Carrell as a major jerk, Sam Rockwell, Rash in a supporting role, AnnaSophia Robb, and Rob Corddry, Toni Colette and Allison Janney. Suffice to say, it sounds amazing – and I can hardly wait for this to come to my city.

1. Despicable Me 2 (7/3)

1. Despicable Me 2 (7/3)

Plot: Gru is recruited by the Anti-Villain League to help deal with a powerful new super criminal.

I love the original DESPICABLE ME 2. This sequel looks amazing and hilarious. I can hardly wait for it. I love Gru and the minions, and I think this will be a real winner with a lot of heart and some great action. And new villains, of course. This is not only my most anticipated movie of July – but it’s probably my most anticipated movie of the year. (But, I’ll have to make a list to see if that’s true. I might be a bit more excited for KICK-ASS 2.) I can’t wait to have a second helping of the minion madness, though. Anything under a score of 75 will be disappointing. I hope this is in the same league as the first.

Here’s all of the movies opening in July: http://www.imdb.com/movies-coming-soon/2013-07/

The Apparition (2012)

Apparition, TheRelease Date: August 24, 2012

Director: Todd Lincoln

Stars: Ashley Greene, Sebastian Stan, Tom Felton

Runtime: 82 min

Horror movies have always kept me up at night. I’d watch them, but in my younger years; I saw very few. I believe Darkness Falls was my first horror movie. (Sadly, I don’t remember some of the first movies I’ve seen.) That one kept me up at night – and I tried to rent it again a few years back, but I just couldn’t bring myself to watch it.

I’ve seen more and more horror movies over the years, and I’ve really grown to love them. I still have problems with supernatural movies, though. That is precisely what The Apparition is. I haven’t seen paranormal flicks like Insidious, Poltergeist, or any of the Paranormal Activity movies.

This makes me think I can check those out. The Apparition has successfully wiped away my fear of these kinds of movies. This film is laughable and not scary in the slightest. The concept from the advertising campaign, where if you believe in the ghost it can kill you, is hardly present in the final cut. It isn’t explored. This takes a traditional, supernatural movie route, and ends up being awful. This doesn’t have an ounce of originality, or an interesting concept. Greene looks attractive. That’s a positive. None of these performers can do squat with the screenplay, however, and they all go underused.

The director, Todd Lincoln, doesn’t do well, either. The ending might be symbolism of the studios’ lack of faith in the project. The hands crawling on Ashley Greene’s face are probably the hands of the angry moviegoers who want their money back. I watched this on TV, and I want my time back. Half of this has already left my memory, except the jokes I made during it. The entity ties knots with some of their clothes and makes scratches in the walls. The entity might as well have hands like a wolverine, can tie knots, and is often better with a camera than cinematographer Daniel Pearl.

This couple makes so many stupid decisions, you don’t care for their outcome. At all. I’m sure if a little statue (from the Experiment they conducted earlier in the film) came out of abnormal mold in my house, I’d leave. I’m also certain that if I witnessed paranormal happenings in my home, I would check into a hotel; not pitch a tent in the backyard. Fifty feet from where the events happened. This is where the malevolent spirit, or whatever unscary being it is, shows us its exemplary camera skills.

This might be considered “so bad it’s good” in some countries. One thing is for sure, it won’t be considered good around North America any time soon. It’s mostly just a blindingly boring, dull, laughable and insanely unscary horror movie. A positive does come out of this film: It will cure any fear of supernatural horror flicks.

12/100

Scary Movie 5 (2013)

Scary Movie 5Release Date: April 12, 2013. Director: Malcolm D. Lee. Stars: Ashley Tisdale, Simon Rex, Charlie Sheen. Runtime: 85 min. Tagline: Evil is coming. Bring protection.

This quote from Billy Madison, said by the Principal to Madison, sums up my thoughts on this film really well (I have paraphrased it extensively), “Mr. Zucker, your movie is one of the most insanely bad films I have ever seen. At no point in your god-awful excuse for a comedy were you even close to anything that could be considered a hilarious joke. Everyone who sat through this is now dumber for having seen it. I award your movie no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.”

In the parody sub-genre that’s already standing on a thin wire, Scary Movie 5 comes into play and curses the world. It’s not refreshing or witty. It’s sophomoric, tedious and, worst of all, painfully unfunny. The filmmakers reach to the very bottom-of-the-barrel for laughs. There are many fart jokes, and you’ll forget every joke one minute after they say it. The jokes are everything a ten year-old boy might find hysterical.

The jokes are unfunny, they don’t conquer any punch-line because there isn’t one, and they’re so, so predictable. If a man stands under a frying pan, what should one expect to happen? There’s also a scene shared between Snoop Dogg and Mac Miller where they are escaping from pot farmers after they steal a giant blunt from their harvest. As a hiding place, Dogg sees a cabin in the woods in the distance, and suggests they go there. Miller replies, “I don’t know, that reminds me of a horror movie I once saw…” Dogg would suggest a title, “Texas Chainsaw Massacre?” To which Miller says, “No, the one with the cabin in the woods!” This goes on for what feels like ten minutes, until Dogg gets fed up. He seems like a saviour to the audience for stopping this nonsense, but he’s still the one who’s in the movie. We get that, yes, there are 30+ horror movies that have a cabin in the woods in it. Thank you, Zucker, but do you have to show us that in this predictable, lazy and endlessly tedious exchange?

This is such an embarrassment, so much that, everyone involved should move to a country where movies are unheard of, change their name and live the rest of their lives there. Mostly because when this is as bad as Disaster Movie or Meet the Spartans, one knows their movie won’t be a success. When you request more Lindsay Lohan and Charlie Sheen, your movie is terrible. It’s also terrible if the strongest scene is a poor “comedic” sex scene shared between those two, where they inexplicably rustle around under the covers, and soon enough midgets and even a small horse join the fun. Whoever thought “Haha, hey, this is going to be really funny!” should be hit by a car, or, if that’s too extreme, fired.

Following the norm, spoof movies always have meaningless characters and a haphazard plot that just makes fun of movies that are way better than it. Some of the movies that are spoofed include: Black Swan, Mama, Evil Dead, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Inception, Paranormal Activity 4, The Cabin in the Woods, and Insidious, among others. This takes seventy minutes to get to the end, and it feels like a two-hour runtime. This is what torture feels like. The fact that the ten-minute blooper reel is miraculously more painful than the movie itself, is baffling.

There’s very little that this has to offer. It spoofs movie after movie, and even ones the writers aren’t smart enough to understand. One of these titles include Black Swan. Darren Aronofsky’s style of cinematography is mocked by filming Tisdale walking to an audition, and she just begins to walk in reverse. It’s not funny. It’s indubitably stupid. It’s no wonder that none of the original cast members are a part of this, and to make it even more offensive… They make an obnoxious character that is an obvious knock-off of Regina Hall’s Brenda Meeks (this character is called Kendra Brooks). Simon Rex is from the third and fourth Scary Movie, and he’s somehow even worse now. No one in this movie is funny. At all. Especially not Ashley Tisdale. Who would have thought one person could miss Anna Farris so, so much?

There’s little good that can be said about this movie. It’s in focus, sure. It’s the first spoof movie (and hopefully the last) that mocks 2013’s Mama and Evil Dead. However, that’s also one of the movie’s most idiotic choices. Evil Dead might be considered a remake, but it’s more of a reboot and since it was only released April 5, that means the filmmakers have to do a few last-minute, amateurish adjustments to fit it into the storyline. Also, if Evil Dead is still in theatres, wouldn’t it only be logical to go and watch the real thing and not this piece of crap? Mama is also not a prominent horror movie in popular culture just yet, and it isn’t nearly as popular as Insidious or Paranormal Activity. These are some of the filmmaker’s biggest screw-ups because the audience likes to be aware of which movie  is being mocked.

The fact that this movie is not R-rated is an absolute farce. There is one f-bomb and non-stop sexual humour throughout. (Even some of the swear words throughout are bleeped, which is RIDICULOUS for a Hollywood production.)

The movie’s masterwork could be the narrator, who might or might not be Morgan Freeman. It isn’t. It’s an impersonator. It’s really stupid. Filmmakers, if you can’t get Morgan Freeman to narrate your movie, either follow Seth MacFarlane’s decision and settle for Patrick Stewart, or, I don’t know, don’t have a narrator at all!

This is not only the worst addition to the Scary Movie franchise, Worst Movie of the Year Contender, but a Worst Film of All-Time Contender. I also sincerely hope this is where the franchise ends. This movie makes me want to find the Book of the Dead, recite every phrase in that book, and unleash demons onto the world. I’ll read it in Latin, English, Greek, French, Clik-Clak, Japanese, Italian, Spanish, Cherokee, Taushiro; all languages so it wakes up foreign demons, and it stops at least some of the world from experiencing this lazy and dreadful movie.

0/100