Annabelle: Creation

Score: 6.5/10*

Length: 109

Rating: R

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, murderer, toys, prequel, devil, ghost

Waaaaaaaaaaaaay better than the first one. Probably to do with the director, David F. Sandberg, who also did Lights Out. There are a few upcoming directors I’m following, and this guy might add himself to my list. The screenplay is by Gary Dauberman (Annabelle and the upcoming It and The Nun) and of course, it’s produced by James Wan. I don’t usually discuss the people behind the movie, but this is a real winning combination of horror minds. Lulu Wilson also stood out to me- I remembered her from Ouija: Origin of Evil, and Deliver Us from Evil. I hope she continues with the horror genre. So this one stuck with the demon/ ghost girl/ doll theme pretty well, although three things is already pushing it for me. I don’t particularly find dolls scary, so I’m glad the demon was involved. I feel more and more the importance of a movie’s consistency and main focus not muddied by other entities and useless storylines, so this was mildly refreshing. I was glad that the film focussed on the scares and darkness instead of lame CGI and a billion different monsters like some lazy movies…*cough*… Insidious. There were a few scenes and effects I could have done without, but overall, it was pretty solid. The acting was decent, and this film really knew how to drag out the tension. There were even a few cute touches thrown in, such as the original Raggedy Ann doll and the nun from The Conjuring, lurking in a photo. I could have done with more of a backstory to the girl and the doll and I’m still waiting to learn more about the demon. After seeing the first Annabelle, disappointment of the second installment was inevitable, however, I was quite impressed, which was most likely due to my low expectations.

*Friend score average: 6.2

Insidious: Chapter 3 (2015)

Score: 4/10*

Length: 97

Rating: PG-13

Language: English

Categories: recent, 2000s, murder, demon, ghost, supernatural,

It’s pretttttyyyyy clear James Wan didn’t direct this (although he produced it), because the skill of being able to drag the tension out just long enough to deliver the scare at the right time was severely lacking. The director is actually a writer and actor who has appeared in Saw, Insidious, and Cooties. He’s the ghost hunter with the beard in all the Insidious movies. It’s less all-over-the-place than the first, and had its central focus around “the man who can’t breath”. I have asthma, so I can relate. There was one scene I jumped at, but there was so much mushy nonsense I didn’t care about and the ending was awful. At times I felt like I was watching an episode of Charmed, especially when the mom ghost appeared. I didn’t care about the characters, and watching the scare scenes felt like when you are having sex, and just as it starts to get good, someone knocks on the door and it’s over. The worst idea in the movie was the girl whose face was hidden under her hair. The third installment of Insidious is about a young girl who is hit by a car, and has a demon attaches itself to her. There’s also our old friend, the ghost whisperer, who has the bride-witch-demon-thing trying to strangle her everytime she tries to help the girl find her ghost-mom.

*friend consensus

Satanic (2016)

Score: 4/10*

Length: 85

Rating: R

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, devil, supernatural, murderer

I’m going to start off real here. The only reason I’m watching this movie is because I hear they stay in a hotel room where a girl slits her throat, and her name is Laney Gore. “Laney Gore bled on the floor of 204.” (My name is also Laney, if you didn’t know). It starts off with some God awful script writing for the four young adults getting high in the car while driving to their first destination, the hotel. They stop at various macabre sights along the way to Coachella, but decide the follow some satanist store owners when they are mean to them in their store. I had to fast-forward through a few scenes like the party and any time the group is in a car. On top of the lame scenes and painful script, the music is mostly not for human ears. The main characters aren’t people you’d feel sorry for, either. After easily outing themselves to a group of Satanists, it becomes crystal clear that the spies deserve whatever comes to them, and you will not be routing for any of them, not even familiar face, Sarah Hyland. I did, however, enjoy that there was no bad CGI and I like the time loop thing even though it didn’t make much sense other than being just another factor in the nightmare that poor ‘Doe Eyes’ has to endure. I was disappointed that we didn’t get to really see any of the deaths, and any favorable feelings I felt were swiftly erased by the wtf ending. I guess Hell is unpredictable.

* Extra point for using my name a lot.

The Bye Bye Man (2017)

Score: 3.5/10

Length: 97

Rating: PG-13

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, monster, ghost, devil, murderer

A nauseating couple and the guy’s childhood best friend move into a house in need of some renovations. They find some old stuff, say the bad bye bye words, and then the ghost-demon or whatever infects their brains, turning people into delusional killers. There’s a lot of stupid garbage in the movie. Like, the obvious one, the name of movie’s antagonist, and the title of the movie. Or perhaps, the dreadful script. The so-called (for reasons unknown) Bye Bye Man, who we see way too much of, reminds me of this guy from Beastly (which I obviously haven’t watched, but I remember the awful movie poster).  However, I did like the whole Vanilla Sky, “what’s real, what’s not??” situation. There were a few mini mind-fucks that caught me off-guard but there were a few dumb ones as well. This is not a film I’d recommend, but I didn’t feel like it was a waste of time or anything and the ending was kind of cute. If only that wit had been in the rest of the film.

The Disappointments Room (2016)

Score: 4.5/10

Length: 86

Rating: R

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, haunted house, ghost, murderer

Kate Beckinsale is a blonde wife and mother who moves into a new home in the country with her family. She starts seeing spooky things in the house, and her husband assumes it’s her mental illness, asking the cliche, “Did you take your pills?”, so it’s pretty original. He continually asks, “Do you believe me?” which doesn’t add to his likability. I don’t know if it was just me, but I got an off feeling about the family right away. The acting was strange and I immediately didn’t like any of them. I could barely understand the husband’s fat-tongue mumbling, and I really could have done with some subtitles. The idea of a room to hide your hideous freak-children is intriguing. Building off of other films and focusing the movie solely around the room is mildly interesting. I did like the dripping chandelier scene; it felt very dreamy. Pretty much any scene where the magazine mom wanders around the house/property- taking photos, slicing knives into a wooden block. There’s a cat that must have been drugged or it’s a thousand years old to let a child squish-hug it and then give it a soapy sink bath. There are some ghost people who are kind of creepy, but don’t really do enough to actually be scary and their makeup is underwhelming. I’m not sure how this film took up more than an hour because it didn’t really feel like anything exciting happened, while somehow, the movie felt short while falling short. This leaves me conflicted on the score, but if I was grading it, it’d definitely be in the ‘C’ category.

The Neighbor (2016)

Score: 5.5/10

Length: 87

Rating: NR (But clearly R)

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, murderer, underground

As a Canadian, it pains me to put no ‘u’ in the title, but I suppose it’s an American movie and the paper mache mask on the cover makes up for it. It felt very familiar early on, like I had seen at least some of it before. Probably before passing out and then forgetting about it. This action-thriller film is about  an errand-man whose wife is kidnapped by their neighbour before they plan to split with a bag of cash. Josh Stewart does a great job of looking like Sean Penn’s druggy brother, but the acting from everyone is pretty decent.  I appreciate that the women weren’t just victims, they fought hard. It feels like The Collector series, but lacks some of the originality. Most of the gore seemed to be dead animals which definitely could’ve been skipped, but there were a splatter of blood and guts scenes throughout.  It had artistic spots, but it just wasn’t anything special or creative. Not a bad movie at all, but also not a memorable title or story. I could definitely see myself accidentally watching some of it again.

Raw (2016)

Score: 6/10*

Length: 99

Rating: R

Language: French

Other title: Grave

Categories: 2000s, recent, murderer, gore porn

This French film was a “must see” at the festivals. It’s akin to Teeth or Ginger Snaps in that it’s fresh, mildly original, and centred around a beautiful, flesh-biting teenager. However, as in most French movies I have seen, the gore is thick, and the blood is bright. Raw is about a vegetarian college student who is forced to eat rabbit during a hazing ritual, and as a result, gains an irresistible urge to devour humans. She lets her douchey sister who is attending the same veterinary school be cruel to her again and again as she parties with the crowds of other students. I guess maybe when you’re the younger sister you are very forgiving as you just want attention from your older, cooler, sibling, but it was frustrating to watch, nonetheless. There are a few really gory scenes, but the most cringeworthy was the finger-sucking. My biggest wish is that the film leaned more to one side- a dark comedy or a thrilling horror. Because of this, I felt it lacked a bit of… bite. Although the ending was nicely-wrapped, it was guessable and geared towards a non-horror crowd.

*Friend Score: 6.5/10

Absentia (2011)

Score: 7/10

Length: 87

Rating: R

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, murderer, monster, alien, animal, underground, recommended

I love a good mystery-horror! And this one is quiet, sad, and haunting. Another monster movie with an “underneath” (it seems like everything good these days has some sort of Malcovichian land and/or a demon-bug). My favorite thing about this low-budget film, is that the only way you can tell it’s not on movie posters at the theatre is because the characters look like normal people. And that’s quite exciting really, because you can imagine them in your apartment building, checking their mailbox and walking their dog. They don’t look like celebrity New Yorkers or muddy red-neck farmers. They’re pretty relatable, though maybe still your run-of-the-mill characters (a woman falls for a cop after her husband disappears, the drug addicted sister, you know). But our main gal is pregnant and going through some major life drama, and the emotions along with the horror tension really make this film one I’d recommend. The story is similar to that of Stranger Things (even though it came first) in that people go missing in a underworld inhabited by a supernatural creature. I liked the filming, I liked the jumps and the twists. It was a pretty decent movie that was really careful to not be over-the-top and to leave a little mystery.

Get Out (2017)

Score: 6.5/10

Length: 104

Rating: R

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, murderer, almost horror, psychological

This film was very hyped-up with super reviews but I was careful not to let it get my hopes up, just in case. It’s a good movie, with an original idea, but it seems to be more of a mystery-thriller than horror to me. Perhaps it was all the TSA jokes. It felt like a combination of The Skeleton Key, Being John Malkovich, and Under the Skin, (which are all fantastic films) and I enjoyed the mix of psychology and sci-fi. I was glad to not have to yell at the screen when things made no sense. The characters were well-thought out and well-developed. Daniel Kaluuya (you’ll probably know him from Black Mirror) is very relatable in his roles, and Allison Williams was an easy choice for the waspy white girl. The movie is about a guy who goes to meet his girlfriend’s family, but something is not right- all the help, who just so happen to be black, seem to be dazed and acting fake like they’re existing in some sort of deluded pleasantville. It’s clear they’ve been brainwashed into being servants and sex slaves, but it’s a little bit more tricky and strange than that. I thought I’d save this to the end- this is the first movie directed by Jordan Peele. You might not recognize the name, but you’ll recognize his face. He’s a comedy TV actor mostly, but appeared recently in Keanu. The comedic flare to this film makes quite a bit of sense now, but I’m still pretty shocked that he directed it.

Ouija: Origin of Evil (2016)

Score: 5/10

Length: 99

Rating: PG-13

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, ghost, devil, supernatural, good-bad, recommended, murderer

Let’s get right to the point here. Of course, this had nothing to do with “the origin of evil”. Obviously there were some bad, over-the-top CGi bits (including the increasingly popular, exaggerated mouth-stretching). There were even parts that only made sense to stoned people drinking chocolate milk. But much to the shock of my lower than low expectations, this wasn’t so bad! I actually had the opportunity to watch it several times over the last year and passed, because I assumed it was going to be awful. So tonight I got under the covers, turned off all the lights, and make sure my dog was making weird little yelping noises in her sleep before I pressed play. I didn’t even have to try that hard to enjoy it! There were lots of positive things about the film. I love a recent release that’s set in the fifties, sixties, or seventies eras. It gives it a sort-of alien, while also somewhat relatable, vibe to the story. It’s nostalgic, yet off-putting. I’m not sure that if The Box was set in the eighties or nineties I would have liked it enough to have watched it twice. The story is also pretty good. It’s about a mom and her two daughters who run a (fake) seance business. After the teenage daughter tries the board at a party, mom adds one to her supernatural set-up. After almost everyone ever plays with the board a million times, the youngest daughter becomes possessed, considering no one followed the pretty-basic and super easy rules. I really liked that the story was clear and structured all the way through, but not so that things were overly obvious. It was focussed around one ghost who had a somewhat creative history which I can really appreciate against the tangled-web offering of some similar movies that feel like their characters are an awkward Scooby-Doo monster mash-up.  The human characters were likable for the most part, and in a rare event *SPOILER ALERT* the ending wasn’t all sunshine and ambulances. Even IMBD rated the sequel higher than the original, so I’m not totally crazy. But honestly, I barely remember the first one. If you don’t recall it either, you can read about it here.

Edit: Oh! I just realized why this wasn’t too bad! Mike Flannigan (Hush, Occulus) directing. Although I expect WAY better from this guy, I’m hoping to blame it on a low budget.