A Doll of A prequel: Creation of a Better Movie


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So many years ago, the Conjuring dropped into theaters and opened up a movie universe that would bestow nightmares to the audience members who saw it.  This weekend, the latest installment in this haunted world with Annabelle Creation.  A prequel to the last film, this possessed doll continues to be a popular figure head in the occult series to warrant another film.  Is this film a fitting addition to the franchise, or is it another money grabber fit to be lost in the horror archives?  Robbie K here to help answer those questions and share some thoughts.  Let’s get to work.

 

LIKES:

 

Answers Questions:  The first Annabelle gave the doll some basis and established her deadly legacy, but it lacked any true backstory of her creation.  The prequel, as so titled, helped fill in the creation story and establish the origin to its possession.  As the film progresses, more of the Annabelle’s journey is revealed, alongside a closer look at the creature that uses it as a puppet.  While not fully complete, we now have the connections needed to make sense of the first movie, and further engross us in the universe. Unfortunately, the name, the involvement, and other details of the demons still remain unanswered, but can be extrapolated with a dialogue hints.

 

The Pace:  Horror movies can have pacing issues at time depending on the story.  Fortunately, Annabelle Creation’s moves at a decent pace to maximize the movie.  Slow enough to provide build up for the scares, but fast enough to keep everything moving and on edge, the production team did a nice job keeping you invested in the movie.  There is little time between all the craziness, with just enough comedic relief to relieve the tension and keep things interesting.

 

Scares:  I guess we need to talk about the main element you go for these movies huh?  The scare factor is at an all-time high in this movie, continuing the Conjuring’s legacy of keeping things dynamic, fun, and suspenseful.  Annabelle’s creepy on so many levels, starting with the realistic setting to place the movie in.  That realism and the use of shadows has your imagination on fire trying to fill in the gaps of what lurks in the dark.  Once the subtle components are set, you can bet there a number of creepy tricks played in this film, alongside the fleeting glimpses of the demon that terrorizes the family in his cruel game. And of course, there is that doll. It’s soulless stare and deceiving smile continue to give me the willies, and had a number of audience members using colorful language before involuntary rising from their seats.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Character stories:  The movie had a lot of characters to play in our haunted setting.  The protagonists of the film held a lot of potential to develop as characters, and unfortunately, they failed on that level.  Sure, you can piece together the simple origins placed before you, but I would have liked more insight into the girls’ origins or perhaps a little more integration of Bee into the writing to help maximize scares.  With the conjuring able to unearth their demons and dreams in a quality manner, Annabelle should be able to mimic that magic.  Scares do not equal perfect horror movie.

 

Pointless characters:  Remember the big family in the Conjuring and how each sibling, parent, and exorcist were part of the tale in some way.  That’s gone too.  Annabelle Conjuring brought a large group into the home, but only about four-five of them have any real involvement in the plot.  The underutilization of these characters tripped up the plot, made for ridiculous scenes that didn’t have as much importance, and really left me asking, what was their point.  One girl has just one line and a few stares at the camera.  Why include them if you aren’t going to use them to develop the characters, or at least try to work together to escape the demon’s wrath. 

 

Predictability:  Scares are getting easier to predict in this day and age.  This is mostly due to the development team throwing their usual tactics into the mix to warn you of the impending jump scare. Annabelle Conjuring doesn’t escape this trend and much of the scares can be seen a mile away in some form or manner. While there are a few moments that were good tries, the tactics got repetitive and/or cheesy to be laughable rather than fearful.  Fortunately, some creepy special effects and the darkness offset this enough to still get under your skin… thanks religion nightmare inducing series.

 

The Verdict:

 

Overall, Annabelle Creation is one of the better horror movies of the summer and perhaps this year.  It is dark, creepy, and moves at that pace needed to keep you invested in the movie for the two-hour run time.  In addition, the filling in gaps and hints start to connect the world (a very popular trend), which will have you die hard horror fans screaming in delight at both scares and plot.  Yet, there are still elements of the story telling to clean up and utilizing your characters you bring in is a big step to improve on.  In addition, I hope the next installment forgoes the predictable moves and gives us that kick I haven’t seen yet.  Considering everything, this reviewer recommends a visit to the theater for this one, assuming you are disturbed by spiritual haunting movies. 

 

My scores:

Horror/Mystery/Thriller:   8.5

Movie Overall:  7.0

 

P.S. Stay for the end of the credits for some teasing.

Time to Conjure up a Sequel

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The horror genre, a movie category that tries to be good, but often ends up a joke during most movies. Occasionally though, we get a film that provides a good thrilling scare and is actually worth the admission price. For me, The Conjuring was one of those movies able to provide the chills I was looking for with a story to match. When I heard a sequel was coming, I feared that its good name would be diluted by the Hollywood haste to make money (remember Annabelle?). Hi Robbie K here, and today I review the Conjuring 2 and share my thoughts on the latest film. Let’s get started.

 

THE GOOD

  • Story
  • Integrated scares
  • Acting/Recurring Cast

 

Seldom do we get a horror movie with an actual story, instead focusing on how to make people jump. This is not the case with this film my friends. Director James Wan and his team have managed to craft a tale that is both entertaining and interesting to watch. Conjuring 2’s story takes place a few years after the first with the Warren’s continuing their investigations of the paranormal. Meanwhile, across the ocean, the Hodgson family begins to experience their own paranormal activity that will eventually warrant inspection by our detectives. Sounds simple I know, and in truth it is, but Wan’s delivery is fantastic.
He manages to build suspense in his tale, using a gradual series of scares to build the tension and slowly reveal the truth in the haunting. And to throw in the few twists they did, only added more depth to the story. But Wan goes one step further and decides to bring some character development into mix, helping to add depth to all involved to help us connect with the film. The Warren’s story was great to expand on, discussing the origins of our detectives, while also dropping in a little bit of love to sweeten the deal. And if that weren’t enough, he even manages to keep all of the scares pertinent to the story, integrating them into the plot rather than dropping a random scare moment that Hollywood is famous for. By having the scares have a purpose, they removed the corny aspects and added an edge that made the only that much better.

Of course, having a great cast to act out this story is the final piece of the puzzle. The repeat performance by Wilson and Farmiga was just as strong, the chemistry between them solid that I believed they were a couple. Newcomers to the series Madison Wolfe and Frances O’Connor played their roles as a terrified family to the letter, while also having another side to them that made you feel sorry for them. Finally Simon McBurney as Maurice Gross added some finesse to the cast, with a little comedic relief when the going got tough. But while fantastic alone, the chemistry between everyone was on point and only made things that much better.

THE BAD:

  • Still another horror movie
  • Dropped some plot points/unexplained
  • Predictable scare tactics

 

It was difficult to find weaknesses in this movie for me, but there are a few things that took away from the movie for me. First is that this is still another horror movie that fits in well with other films of the same genre. We’ve had some unique horror films in the past, but this one is just a good old fashioned haunted house story. Again this is a picky weakness, but the originality could have used a bit more tweaking in my opinion.

A bigger weakness is some of the plot points and presentation in the film. Wait a minute, I just said the plot was good didn’t I? Yes it is, but it’s not perfect and the Conjuring 2 has a few moments that I was still wanting closure on. I have to be sparing to not spoil anything, but one major detail lacking is why one particular thing has a vendetta against the family. A second limiting plot point is how two of the characters sort of drop out of the story without so much as a blink when they had played a key role in the film. But even with these limitations, the story itself was mostly complete and had a good closure, again I’m grasping at straws here. In addition there were some melodramatic moments that were a bit drawn out and somewhat cheesy to me. Oh well can’t be perfect right.

Finally the scare tactics are still predictable as ever and didn’t really get me with the exception of one time. Camera angles giving away something, music eerily going silent and the occasional getting out of bed to walk in a dark hallway give away the horror from a mile away. But while I’m used to it, other members of the audience were still howling in fear, so again this may be a moot point.

 

THE VERDICT:

Overall, The Conjuring 2 is a sequel quite worthy of being called just as good as the original. Wan and his group has shown that a horror movie can have a story and still be scary despite the beliefs of Hollywood. The engaging characters, the well timed suspense, and the integrated scares are surely the best selling points. With few weakness to point out, this reviewer can’t help but recommend this one for a theater visit for you horror fans out there.

 

My scores for this movie are:

Horror: 9.0

Movie Overall: 8.0-8.5