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Movie Review: ‘Annabelle: Creation’ Does Decent Doll Horror

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Annabelle: Creation Movie Review MovieSpoon.com

[dropcap]D[/dropcap]olls have always been pitched as staples of movie horror, but I don’t see the fright in such figures. They’re small, light and fragile enough that you can punch, kick, toss or chuck them a few yards with ease. This is why 2014’s Annabelle was such a lackluster movie by focusing so heavily on a rigid doll that all a ghost could do to make her creepy was hold it up to create the illusion of movement. And this is why the prequel film Annabelle: Creation is far more effective as the doll is the least frightening thing in the movie.

Annabelle: Creation Movie Review MovieSpoon.com

Probably not the kind of doll you’d give as a birthday present.

Staged as a prequel to 2014’s Annabelle, which was in itself a prequel to 2013’s The Conjuring, the film details the creation of Annabelle as both the doll and the legend. She was built by dollmaker Samuel Mullins who had the perfect rural family life. So, of course, his living daughter Annabelle must suffer a cruel death. Enter the Pet Semetary logic of bringing your daughter back, where the Mullins strike a deal with a demon to briefly have visions of their daughter running around the house. But, surprise, it’s not really their daughter but a hideous and blood-thirsty devil! You really have to read that demonic fineprint.

The Mullins household becomes more full when the family decides to take in the girls of a closed orphanage. Having confined their daughter’s demonic presence to the doll that is now locked away in her room, the Mullins think nothing of having little girls in the house. Surely they won’t venture inside a locked room of toys and unleash the spirit of Annabelle into the house once more.

Annabelle: Creation Movie Review MovieSpoon.com

Nobody thought to burn that thing?

Of course, their curiosity will get the better of them and set Annabelle free to claim souls. Or a body? Or blood? It’s hard to tell what exactly she wants, but it’s clear that she’s not a people person, choosing to fling bodies off staircases and vomit black goo into the mouths of others.

A big problem with 2014’s Annabelle was that the frights rely entirely on a standard female ghost running around and holding up a doll. The possessive spirit of the Annabelle doll in Creation doesn’t even need the doll to be scary. The Mullins don’t need it to see their daughter and the orphaned girls don’t need it to be terrorized by bumps in the nights and the slamming of doors. The doll in this film acts more or less as a vessel for the spirit, more akin to the lamp of a genie. All one has to do is release the toy from its closeted prison of holy water and wallpaper of Bible passages to turn the house into a haunted hell.

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The film focuses mostly on the scares that are more entertaining for their construction than their delivery. A Polio-stricken girl relies on a rickety motorized chair to take her up the stairs and will later try to use it to get away from Annabelle. The chair will go through a series of malfunctions including not starting properly, breaking down and going the wrong direction. When her chair sends her back up the stairs, Annabelle will mount a surprise attack not from behind the walls, but from above! There’s something so admirable and hilarious for the creativity of a haunted house terrorizing little girls.

Annabelle: Creation Movie Review MovieSpoon.com

What a pretty face.

Not all the scares are that creative, however, as the movie does rely on a feast of jump scares. There’s at least a higher percentage of jump scares that reveal something scary as opposed to another character loudly entering the frame to break the silence.

Read more for the rest of the Annabelle: Creation movie review:

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“Captain Marvel” Retains Top Slot at the Box Office

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It’s no surprise that in its second weekend, the first Marvel Cinematic Universe of 2019 is still riding high. Captain Marvel, the latest in the MCU with Brie Larson starring as the lead, generated another $69 million over the weekend, placing its domestic total at $266 million. Tallying up the international box office, the film’s global total to date is $760 million. Despite the online controversy, the film is looking to be another strong box office smash for Disney and Marvel.

As for the premieres for the weekend, and there were plenty, they were all over the map. Just below Captain Marvel was the animated adventure Wonder Park, bringing in $16 million, another film with controversy when the director’s name was removed from the picture after sexual harassment charges. Five Feet Apart, the dying teen drama about a romance amid cystic fibrosis, only came in at #3 with a weekend gross of $13 million. And debuting the lowest in the top 10 for debuts was Captive State, a sci-fi dystopian tale, only making $3 million. The film debuted so low the little film No Manches Frida 2 was able to sneak about it at #6 with a gross of $3.8 million.

Drops were fairly low all around for the returning films, mostly because Captain Marvel was dominating the previous weekend. The only milestone worth noting is that The LEGO Movie 2, after six weeks at the box office, finally cracked $100 million. And the sun is now setting on Green Book’s post-Oscar run by coming in at #10 for the final weekend of its top 10 run over the past few weeks.

View the full top ten weekend box office results below:

Captain Marvel ($69,318,000)

Wonder Park ($16,000,000)

Five Feet Apart ($13,150,000)

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($9,345,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($8,085,000)

No Manches Frida 2 ($3,894,000)

Captive State ($3,163,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($2,135,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($1,900,000)

Green Book ($1,277,000)

Next weekend, Captain Marvel may very well have some competition when Jordan Peele’s new horror film Us hits over 3,600 theaters.

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“Dragon” Continues To Soar, “Funeral” Close Behind, “Green Book” Back

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With little competition for the weekend, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, the third in the animated fantasy saga, was able to secure the box office once more. In its second weekend, the animated epic made $30 million to push its domestic total to $97 million. So far the film has done about the same as the previous film and is on track to stay in the top 10 for a few more weeks in March.

Debuts this weekend were small with one big exception. Tyler Perry’s latest Madea film, A Madea Family Funeral, naturally made a relatively big splash with its dedicated audience. Starting at #2, the film made $27 million for its first weekend. No word on the budget yet but it’s most likely on a budget as most Tyler Perry productions are, so it’s safe to call this a success, especially for debuting with a box office so close to Dragon.

The rest of the premieres were not as strong at all. Greta, the new thriller starring Chloe Moretz, debuted all the way down at #8 with $4.5 million box office. To be fair, however, the film was in a constant battle for its spot as three other films also reported earnings around $4 million for the weekend. Of note, Green Book, fresh off winning the Academy Award for Best Picture one weekend ago, splashed back into more theaters to arise even higher in the top 10 with its domestic total now sitting at $73 million. Don’t count on it remaining there long as bigger blockbusters will be swooping as we plow through the last remnants of winter movies.

Check out the full listing of the top 10 box office weekend results below:

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($30,046,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($27,050,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($7,000,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($6,615,000)

Green Book ($4,711,000)

Fighting With My Family ($4,691,284)

Isn’t it Romantic ($4,645,000)

Greta ($4,585,000)

What Men Want ($2,700,000)

Happy Death Day 2U ($2,516,000)

Next weekend is once again all about Marvel as their latest superhero solo film, Captain Marvel, will be appearing in 4,100 theaters.

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Review: “Captain Marvel” is a Solidly Sensational Sci-Fi Adventure

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Captain Marvel joins the ranks of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a much different way. She slides into the MCU via a twisty sci-fi adventure of the 1990s, before the Avengers were formed. And though the film does serve as a strong bridge picture that answers a few more questions about the Marvel universe, the film quickly becomes its own thing and gives its hero a real identity as the powerful addition to the superhero ensemble.

Brie Larson plays Carol Danvers, a woman not sure if she’s a human pilot of Earth or a soldier of the Kree empire’s Starforce. There’s little time to explore these conflicting visions she’s having when there’s special energy powers to control and a war being waged against the shape-shifting Skrull alien creatures. A detour to 1990s Earth gives her a bit of time to find out more while also hunting down some more Skrulls, leading to some interesting scenarios when combatting aliens that could look like old ladies.

Marvel Studios’ CAPTAIN MARVEL..Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) ..Photo: Film Frame..©Marvel Studios 2019

Carol’s landing on Earth leads to treading down familiar Marvel timeline territory as well as evoking plenty of dated 1990s bits. What started drawing me into the picture was how the film holds itself back from the obvious. The 1990s setting is used for some gags of video stores and Windows 95, sure, but never goes the extra mile of becoming an aggravating reference fest, keeping a certain vibe the way Guardians of the Galaxy embraced the 1970s and 1980s. And just like that film, there’s a nostalgic soundtrack to boot, with choice tracks for just the right cue.

Samuel L. Jackson pops up in the film as a younger Nick Fury with his two eyes still intact. He teams up with Carol in her intergalactic spy adventure and thankfully never goes to the booming lengths he was known for that decade. And the filmmakers could have easily made this younger Fury go full Die Hard 3 or Pulp Fiction but he never does, always keeping that cool persona he has been known for in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Marvel Studios’ CAPTAIN MARVEL..L to R: Att-Lass (Algenis Perez Soto), Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) and Minn-Erva (Gemma Chan)..Photo: Film Frame..©Marvel Studios 2019

But the one aspect that is never shunned and built up grandly is the aspect of female empowerment. Danvers is established as a woman who doesn’t have a clear identity or mindful nature of galactic politics and has to build herself up when she realizes she may be a very powerful pawn in a big game of intergalactic chess. Her memories are that of always being told to back off from non-traditional activities for girls and, sure enough, she rises up to become the smirking and energy-shooting hero when the final piece of her character puzzle is pieced together. It’s just unfortunate that the film spends so much time doing the building amid a twisty sci-fi spy story that Brie never gets a moment to shine as brightly as she could, despite a very enthusiastic third-act closer.

If we’re being blunt, no, Captain Marvel doesn’t quite have the same gravity to be a cultural milestone of a comic book movie. Where others have pointed to Black Panther as not the first the most insightful and cultural of black-led superhero movies, I doubt many will look towards Captain Marvel as the grandest of female-led comic book movies, making its motives known with the power and subtlety of a supernova. But, in terms of what the film is aiming towards, it doesn’t have to prove anything to anyone and that’s perhaps the point. I just wish that Captain Marvel’s astounding powers to destroy starships and aliens had a much bigger punch for a picture that wants to obliterate the glass ceiling and merely cuts a narrow hole within the MCU. It’s a nice hole, mind you, and still weaves a capable and compelling sci-fi adventure with a surprisingly more engaging finale than most Marvel solos.

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