Annabelle (DVD Review)

15 – 95mins – 2014


 

DEVIL’S WELCOME

“It cannot truly ever be destroyed…”

Set before but filmed after James Wan’s 2013 horror hit The Conjuring (the sequel of which I reviewed HERE), Annabelle is the creepy doll-centric spin-off which has recently been given a Creation story, now in cinemas nationwide, which itself is set before but filmed after Wish Upon director John R. Leonetti’s period frightener.

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The Handmaid’s Tale (DVD Review)

15 – 90mins – 1990


 

FUNDAMENTALIST FUTURE

27 years before Hulu remade it into a highly-acclaimed and much-discussed, must-see television series, Margaret Atwood’s eye-opening 1985 dystopian novel was adapted to film, courtesy of a Harold Pinter screenplay. Critically commended though it was, an eleventh hour change of director led to rewrites Pinter was “too tired” to work on, so he suggested incoming helmer Volker Schlöndorff return to the author for any “tinkering,” leading the Nobel-Prize winning playwright to all-but disown credit for such a “hodgepodge.”

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The Void (Blu-ray Review)

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18 – 90mins – 2016


 

SYMBOLS & TENTACLES

Predominantly set in a soon-to-be-abandoned hospital, this Canadian love letter to old-school, low-budget, 80s horror packs a bucket-load of (high) concepts, masterful physical effects and thematic homages into its ostensibly limited set-up, courtesy of some creatively unhinged plot developments.

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Don’t Knock Twice (DVD Review)

15 – 93mins – 2017


 

GINGER HACKS

“Knock once to raise her from her bed, twice to raise her from the dead…”

Former Battlestar Galactia bombshell Katee Sackhoff headlines this Welsh indie chiller which splices urban legends with tangible domestic disquiet to conjure a relatable, thought-provoking and eerie atmosphere. Sackhoff plays Jess, a successful sculptor but a less-than-successful mother to her care-raised teenage daughter, Chloe (Lucy Boynton). When Chloe inadvertently awakens a witch while performing a prank on a long-avoided local residence, she returns to her mother’s custardy in the hope a change of scenery will stymie the supernatural curse.

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The Colony (DVD Review)

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15 – 110mins – 2015


 

INSIDE OUT

“Law and order will be reintroduced in Chile.”

When German photographer and grassroots revolutionary Daniel (Daniel Captain America: Civil War Brühl) is abducted by General Pinochet’s secret police during a military coup in Southern Chile, his air stewardess girlfriend, Lena (Emma Regression Watson), courageously joins a cult masquerading as a charity organisation in order to infiltrate the sealed-off complex and break him out. But will Colonia Dignidad’s shady leader and “lay preacher” Paul Shäfer (Michael The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Nyqvist) allow them to leave his sadistic “Heaven on Earth”?

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Midnight Special (DVD Review)

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12 – 111mins – 2016


 

CULT ENCOUNTERS OF THE ABSURD KIND

Sometimes critically commended films can disappoint you on a personal level. Sometimes even films which, on paper, sound exactly like something you typically adore, can leave you cold. Sadly, rising director Jeff Nichol’s sullen sci-fi drama (and his breakout studio hit following the indie success of 2012’s Matthew McConaughey-led Mud) manages the dubious honour of a double-whammy for me.

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Friend Request (Cinema Review)

Friend Request

15 – 92mins – 2016


 

THE SATANIC NETWORK

Failing to learn from the fates which befell the screen-obsessed teens in Unfriended and Ratter, here’s yet another – albeit superior – slice of e-horror which taps into the zeitgeist’s paranoia of online privacy.

Beautiful and popular Psychology student Laura (Fear The Walking Dead’s Alycia Debnam-Carey – who continually reminded me of a young Vera Farmiga) rues the day she ever accepted the Facebook anonymous social media poking of lonely newcomer Marina (Liesel Ahlers), who morphs from profile stalker to vengeful techno-phantom when she takes Laura’s less-than-fervent reciprocation to heart and commits suicide after her sole follower clicks ‘unfriend’.

Beginning in a lecture on “Internet Addiction Disorder” and decking the pale, make up-less shy girl out in a drab grey hoodie and gifting her with a macabre love of posting gothic, nightmarish giffs, it could be argued that German director Simon Verhoeven’s topical horror is a little on-the-nose (or should that be ‘button’?), but Friend Request is more than proficient in delivering a rising sense of fear amongst Laura and her dwindling group of followers, successfully balancing narrative creepiness with some decent jump-scares.

As Marina’s ritualistic suicide video is mysteriously spread through Laura’s horrified network and her (physical) friends struggle to crack the code and work out exactly who the mysterious outcast was and why – or how – she is continuing to haunt them from beyond the grave, the body count begins to rise in spectacularly grisly fashion. It seems the waspish witch is determined to show Laura exactly what it means to be lonely…

“Unfriend that dead bitch!”

Impressively linking Marina’s creative – if creepy – cyber-animations into her sad and spooky cult-related backstory, Friend Request continued to impress the horror hound in me with some grotesque visuals and sympathising characterisation, sadly it is one CR@B follower shy of a four star film due to an unsatisfactorily cursor-y climax which sent the exponential narrative build-up to the Recycle Bin in favour of a final, lazy staccato shock.

CR@B Verdict: 3 stars