• Film (Re)View – Annabelle Comes Home

    Love, love, love this latest outing from James Wan and The Conjuring Universe. This is how horror movies should be done! These guys can do no wrong in my book.

    The movie goes back to when Annabelle first came into the Warren’s possession (no pun intended). If you know the story of the doll, then you know it was ‘rescued’ by Ed and Lorraine after it had terrorised the nurse who’d received it as a gift. The movie begins here and the opening sequence charts the Warren’s trip home.

    En route they are re-routed due to a road traffic accident and their car breaks down outside a cemetery. As Ed goes to check the engine, Lorraine opens up the map, blocking the window and her view of the cemetery. This is where this franchise of films comes into its own, because we, the audience, are fully expecting something to appear outside that window, and so are on the edges of our seats – breath held, stomach in knots – but it doesn’t. Instead, a voice comes from behind her saying ‘I like your doll’, making the audience jump.

    Once home, the Warrens call a local priest to bless the doll before locking it securely in a glass case with the words ‘WARNING! Positively do not open.’ Well, we all know what happens when we’re not allowed to do something!

    The next day the Warrens go away on a case, leaving their daughter, Judy, in the care of her babysitter, Mary Ellen. We soon learn that Judy is picked on at school because of her parents’ occupation, but also that she is developing her mother’s skills as a psychic. Mary Ellen is planning a cosy night with Judy when her friend Daniela invites herself over. Daniela has recently lost her father and, blaming herself, she wants to get into the Warren’s ‘Occult Museum’ to see if she can make contact with him.

    As expected, Daniela gets into the room filled with all the haunted objects they’ve collected and, without realising it, she releases them. Disappointed at not seeing her father, she exits the room and pretends that nothing has happened until, that is, something does.

    The pace of this movie is just right. Full of jumps and scares, twists and turns, it keeps you in a constant state of tenseness and breathlessness.

    I cannot fault this film. As I said, for me, this is how horror movies should be. It’s not about what you are shown by the filmmakers, it’s about what you conjure up in your mind!

    I cannot wait for The Conjuring 3 next year!!


  • Film (Re)View – Midsommar

    It’s taken me a long time to write this review because, basically, I have been trying to make sense of the movie in my head. I haven’t succeeded!

    I went to see it with a friend of mine and at the end, I turned to her and said “well, that was a pile of crap, just like Hereditary”, but she said she’d really enjoyed it. Maybe I’ve judged it too harshly, I thought, hence my weeks of pondering. My conclusion is that I hadn’t judged it too harshly – the film was full of holes… in my opinion.

    The premise of the story is great. A group of guys have planned to go out to Sweden and participate in the mid summer festival held in the home village of one of the group, Pelle. Another member of the group – Christian – is going through a bad time with his long-term girlfriend, Dani, and his friends are encouraging him to dump her before they go off on their trip. Christian is on the brink of doing so, when Dani’s mentally ill sister murders their parents and herself, leaving Dani all alone. Christian doesn’t have the heart to break up with her and, instead, invites her to Sweden with them. The only one happy with this is Pelle who comments that he understands what it is like to lose a parent, as he had lost both his when he was a child.

    The movie jumps to Sweden and their arrival in Pelle’s home village, where it seems there is a mass migration of inhabitants back for the festival, each one seeming to have brought some outsiders with them. The first ‘unexplained’ strangeness happens here, when they are all required to take magic mushrooms (or something similar), and enjoy a trip which increases Dani’s paranoia, before they can enter the village.

    The village itself is quite primitive, reminding me of a cult commune more than a village, with everyone dressing the same and sleeping in the same huge room.

    Aster does succeed in setting you on edge here as it is obvious something is not quite right with the commune, but the cast are oblivious due to the magic mushrooms.

    The second ‘unexplained’ strangeness occurs on the first full day of their visit when there is a ceremonial breakfast for a middle-aged couple, who are then led off up to a clifftop where they proceed to jump to their deaths. The reason given is that when villagers reach a certain age (I can’t remember what it was) they kill themselves to relieve the other villagers of the burden of their demise… not a full explanation in my book.

    Again, Aster does the goriness of bodies that have hit solid rock from a considerable height very well, and the reaction of our small group is palpable.

    The third ‘unexplained’ strangeness is the fact that every 90 years the village performs ‘this’ ritual. The ritual itself is never explained, but it soon becomes evident that it involves sacrifice, hence the locals dragging in outsiders to take part. Aster forgets to explain why this ritual has to be performed and why it is outsiders, with the odd local offering themselves willingly, that have to be the offering. This is where the movie fell down for me. Had the whole Midsommar ritual been explained properly, whether it be told by Pelle, or the gang had found it in one of the village’s ‘oracles’, then it would have made all the difference to my view of the film.

    For me the movie just became a farce. From Christian having to have public sex with a local virgin (and impregnate her) to the excruciating singing and waling of the villagers.

    The only redeeming features for me were that Dani got her own back on Christian for the way he treated her, and also the impressive special effects. The suspension of disbelief just wasn’t there for me.

    This was not a film about how different tribes live. This was definitely a cult, and had things been explained properly, this could have been a fantastic movie.

    I have a feeling you need to consume magic mushrooms to make sense of it!

  • Film (Re)View – Child’s Play

    I must admit, I was a bit dubious about going to see this movie. After all, the original was so good, and I failed to see how they could improve on it, but the did. Well, maybe not improved on it, but they certainly delivered a knock out movie!

    I still have my reservations above Chucky himself, as he was almost laughable at the start of the movie, but once he was up and about, doing his own thing, he came to life… literally… well, almost.

    Instead of Chucky being possessed by a serial killer, this version has his ‘safety’ settings turned off by a much maligned employee who has just been fired. As such, Chucky has no filter, whether this be language, behaviour, or boundaries.

    He finds his way into Andy’s life through his mother, Karen. The Barclays have recently moved and Andy, who in this version is hearing impared, doesn’t really mix with other kids his age, choosing imstead to stay home and play video games. His mum, who works as a Customer Services Rep at the local toy store (I think it sells more than toys), convinces the warehouse guy not to send a recently returned ‘Buddi’ doll back to the manufacturer, because she wants to give it to Andy for his birthday.

    Predictably, Andy, who actually wants a new phone, is not impressed, but to keep his mum happy he starts to interact with the doll. Pretty soon they are ‘best buddies’ and Chucky (the doll named himself) starts to make it clear that he will do anything to protect his ‘best friend’.

    It is through teaming up with Pugg and Falyn, two kids who live in his apartment block, that Andy realises what Chucky is capable of and embarks on a mission to stop him.

    I do think this movie should have had an ’18’ rating, at the very least due to the kids walking around weilding knives, chainsaws etc. intent on destroying this doll. Yes, I know it is a doll, but if you watch the movie and take in a particular scene, you will understand where my thoughts come from.

    This movie is action-packed, necessarily gory, believable, and extremely well made. I have to say, I was impressed!

  • Film (Re)View – Ma

    Wow! Octavia Spencer is so good in the role of Sue Ann (aka Ma) and is bone-chillingly perfect for a horror movie role. Her facial expressions can go from happy and playful to murderous in seconds – perfect!

    Ma tells the story of Sue Ann, a middle-aged woman who was an outcast at school and who was cruelly led to believe the cool kids wanted her to be part of their gang. They played such a horrible trick on her it scarred her for life and allowed a deep-seated resentment and hatred to fester inside her.

    Maggie, the new kid in school, moves back to town with her mum, Erica. Erica used to be friends with Sue Ann and was accepted in to the gang, the same gang who were so cruel to Sue Ann, but Erica did nothing to help her friend.

    Maggie gets friendly with a group of kids from school, all the offspring of Sue Ann’s torturers. They hang around outside the liquor store trying to persuade people to buy them alcohol, as teenagers have done for many a generation. Sue Ann is one such person, and the only person who agrees to do it for them.

    And so begins Sue Ann’s tale of revenge, revenge which some might think is too slow a burn, but I disagree. The way she stalks and unsettles her prey is brilliant and culminates in a rather artistic way.

    I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and feel Spencer played the stalker role to perfection. It should make those bullies out there sit up and wonder ‘what if’, should they bump into the person they used to prey on at school.

    Highly recommended!