FlixChatter Review – Annabelle: Creation (2017)

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Directed By: David F. Sandberg
Written By: Gary Dauberman
Runtime: 1 hr 49 minutes

I’ve never understood why people find dolls in horror movies scary. They can’t bend their limbs, they’re usually made of porcelain or plastic or something else not very durable, and they’re usually not any taller than your knee. You can just drop-kick the thing away from you. As someone who is thoroughly unimpressed by possessed dolls and hasn’t seen any of the other Conjuring series movies (I KNOW, I’m a bad horror fan; I promise they’re on my list), I didn’t expect this movie to be that scary. I was wrong.

In Annabelle: Creation, a group of orphans (Lulu Wilson as Linda, Talitha Bateman as Janice, Grace Fulton as Carol, Philippa Coulthard as Nancy, Lou Lou Safran as Tierney, and Tayler Buck as Kate) and the nun in charge of them, Sister Charlotte (Stephanie Sigman) move into the house of Esther and Samuel Mullins (Miranda Otto and Anthony LaPaglia), who have opened their home to the girls after losing their own young daughter, Bee (Samara Lee), twelve years earlier. After Janice finds a mysterious doll hidden away in Bee’s old bedroom one night, things quickly take a turn for the horrifying.

What makes the Annabelle doll work in this movie is that it’s not overused to the point of being silly. It’s prominent, obviously, but it’s mostly shown in shadowy angles and blurry shots that make its presence even scarier. As Father Massey (Mark Bramhall) explains, the doll is a conduit- a tool for the demon to use to gain footing in the world of the living. As creepy a the doll is, the demon itself is even more frightening. The special effects in this movie are excellent. The few glimpses we get of the demon’s true form-specifically, the way it morphs and moves-are truly unsettling, and there’s one moment we see it in Bee’s old bedroom that left me really shaken. All of this, combined with superb pacing, keeps the suspense high throughout the whole movie.

That said, this movie isn’t flawless. Much of the dialogue between best friends Linda and Janice is so unrealistically cheesy it would make Little Orphan Annie cringe. It’s not the actresses’ faults-we already know Lulu Wilson has serious horror acting chops after last year’s Ouija: Origin of Evil, and all of her and Talitha Bateman’s non-verbal acting is great. It’s either a writing problem or a directing problem. On the subject of writing, Mrs. Mullin’s explanation for the supernatural ocurrences toward the end of the film is both heavy-handed and vague; if there had been a little more foreshadowing earlier in the movie, I might have been able to accept it more easily, but for a movie whose title implies we would be learning where the evil entity tied to the Annabelle doll comes from, it could have been more fleshed-out.

Overall, though, this is a fantastic, genuinely scary horror movie. I would definitely watch it again, and now I want to marathon the other movies in the series as soon as possible. If you like horror, you should absolutely check this out.

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Have you seen ‘Anabelle: Creation’? Well, what did you think? 

Guest Review: Lantana (2001)

Lantana begins with ambient music and a tracking shot of vegetation which eventually come to rest on a woman’s corpse, face down so that we can’t tell who she was. Then we meet the characters whose lives are entangled like the branches of a lantana shrub, a perennial flowering plant that has a tendency to take over and is now considered a weed in many places. There is Leon (Anthony LaPaglia), a cop who is married to Sonja (Kerry Armstrong) and having an affair with Jane (Rachael Blake), who used to be married to Pete (Glenn Robbins); Jane lives next door to Nik (Vince Colosimo) and Paula (Daniela Farinacci), a happily married couple with two young children; Sonja is seeing a psychologist, Valerie, who is married to John, but thinks that her husband is having an affair with one of her (male) patients, Patrick (Peter Phelps).

Do you need a score card yet? The characters’ paths cross occasionally and awkwardly, but nothing really gets snarled up until Valerie goes missing. Leon and his colleague Claudia (Leah Purcell) are put on the case. In the process of the investigation, we see that none of these people really knows or trusts anyone else, and that they all keep secrets.

The film, released in 2001 and directed by Ray Lawrence, is based on the play Speaking in Tongues by Andrew Bovell, The visual composition, soundtrack, and secret-heavy plot all reminded me of David Lynch’s work, visually and thematically, particularly Blue Velvet (angst in a normal-seeming town) and Twin Peaks (woman goes missing, secrets surround her life), though Lantana doesn’t share Lynch’s use of sound.

The script slowly reveals all of the relationships between the characters. It may seem at times as if the narrative has stalled, but in spite of this, the story drew me in until I wanted to see what would happen. It’s definitely an ensemble piece; the acting is uniformly good, and no one performance stood out, not even Geoffrey Rush’s. The story takes place in a suburb of Sydney and while there are some giveaways that it was filmed there, it basically could be anywhere in the English-speaking areas of the world.

While overall it was a compelling mystery, Lantana doesn’t offer much of a positive spin on relationships. Throughout the film, Claudia has been telling Leon about her crush, a man she sees at the Chinese restaurant eating alone, like her. When she finally talks to her crush, it’s difficult to feel much hope for her. It’s the film’s constant emphasis on mistrust and betrayal that becomes heavy-handed and tends towards overkill, and that’s the aspect of this film that earns it 3 stars instead of 4.


If you’ve seen this movie, I’d love to hear what you think. As for the rest of you, are interested in seeing this one?