Annabelle: Creation (Cinema Review)

15 – 110mins – 2017


 

TOY STORY OF TERROR

With my recent rewatch of 2014’s unfairly-maligned Annabelle (reviewed HERE) still haunting my memory, I tentatively headed to the cinema ALONE to see the new and far more warmly-received prequel to a prequel, directed this time around by David F. Sandberg, who recently sent shivers down my spine in short film-expanded horror feature Lights Out.

… Keep Scuttling!

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.

… Keep Scuttling!

Viral (Netflix Review)

15 – 85mins – 2016


 

DISASTER PREPAREDNESS

Duped into adding this to my watch list by a poster which strongly resembles the promo art for Guillermo Del Toro’s The Strain TV series, my punctured hopes were somewhat re-inflated when the opening credits revealed that this lo-fi parasitic possession horror was directed by Catfish, Paranormal Activity 3 & 4 and Nerve helming duo Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost.

… Keep Scuttling!

Incarnate (Film Review)

15 – 91mins – 2016


 

PARASITIC PURGE

Inception meets The Exorcist in this barmy WWE Studios and Blumhouse co-produced paranormal Aaron Eckhart vehicle, which sees the usually trim and hunky London Has Fallen star grizzled-chopped, lank-haired and wheelchair-bound as Dr. Seth Ember, the sole survivor of a road accident which sets him on a mission to track down “Maggie,” the driver of the car which robbed him of the use of his legs, his wife and young son.

… Keep Scuttling!

XX (Film Review)

Image result for xx film 2017

15 – 80mins – 2017


 

GORE POWER

A horror anthology comprising four grisly vignettes directed by female filmmakers, XX is commendable for none of the quadruple strands overtly capitalising on the USP with dominant feminist themes. These are simply isolated genre tales which just so happen to have women at the helm. Even Sofia Carrillo’s kooky stop-motion animated wrap around featuring a walking dollhouse resuscitating a clockwork girl has no correlations to the embedded stories, simply establishing an eerie, off-kilter aura.

… Keep Scuttling!

THE LIVING AND THE DEAD, 1.1 (TV Review)

BBC 1 – 28th June 2016 – 9pm

Written by: Ashley Pharoah

Directed by: Alice Troughton


 

SHAKEN TO THE CAW

The Beeb boldly takes a leaf out of Netflix’s binge-watching (e-)book with the box set debut of its latest six part drama series on iPlayer, ahead of episode one’s terrestrial premiere on the flagship terrestrial channel tonight.

With a foot still firmly rooted in the fantasy field, Colin “Merlin” Morgan (most recently seen briefly in The Huntsman sequel) leads the cast as forward thinking psychologist Nathan Appleby in this Somerset-set Victorian period drama which explores the tension between life’s extremes: the past and the future, tradition and revolution, rural and urban, adolescence and adulthood, the occult and science, ignorance and knowledge, and – as the title makes abundantly clear – the living and the dead.

“An exciting but very, very awkward phase…”

In this opening chapter, London-living Nathan and his caring second wife, Charlotte (Charlotte Spencer), inherit Nathan’s family farm, Shepzoy House, and move back to the country after his mother’s passing during the Summer solstice celebrations. How will the rigid and resistant household – led by farmhand John (Steve Aaaaaaaah! Oram) – react to this new beginning, with the young generation of Appleby’s determined to modernise the operation and turn the farm’s fortunes around?

The series’ strong theme is so deeply ingrained as to be almost overwhelming, especially when Nathan’s pioneering expertise is called upon to deal with the vicar’s child, Harriet Denning (Tallulah Haddon), who is morphing from a “dream daughter” into a remote and troubled young woman with a disturbing tendency to talk in a gruff manly voice. Is her mind being warped by the “dangerous” books she is reading; is she frightened by her own sexuality into creating a splintered alter ego; or is she possessed by the spirit of dead down and out, Abel North (David Sterne)?

“Fresh fruit waiting to be plucked…”

With the locale and musical score provided a folksy, Wicker Man-esque atmosphere (further aided by flickering candle-light and shadows highlighting a sense of otherness), The Living and the Dead is more successful in conjuring a slow, macabre air of tension and dread than it is at shocking set-pieces. Tallulah Haddon’s competence at creepy impressions is chillingly unnerving – particularly when she starts needling at Nathan’s tragic past – while John’s ominous fate is filmed in too delicate a manner to leave an impact.

I was fully expecting this scene-setting first hour to do little more than establish the characters and arching themes, so was mighty surprised when Nathan resolves Harriet’s case. Clearly future instalments will see the psychologist tackle other instances of supernatural manifestation, while his haunting past continues to plague his present state of mind. If episode two can continue just as expertly in its tension-ramping storytelling, then The Living and the Dead will continue to mesmerise – but it could perhaps do with taking its foot off the thematic throttle a bit; subtly over transparency will see this spooky series soar.

CR@B’s Claw Score: 4 stars