Malignant and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures
Directed by James Wan
I’m pretty sure I saw exactly one trailer for this before it was dropped on HBO Max, so I guess we’re getting to the point where Warner Bros isn’t pushing their SAME DAY RELEASE stunt as hard; at least until Dune finally comes out. Still, I’ll take almost any chance Warner Bros wants to give me to not spend fifteen bucks to see one of their movies and James Wan has a pretty good track record across several different genres (ESPECIALLY horror), so hey! It’s right in my wheelhouse… and I guess technically my ACTUAL house as well. Is it a fun horror film to pad out HBO Max’s already impressive library of movies, or are they just doing a favor for the guy who brought over a BILLION dollars to the studio with a DC movie NOT starring Batman? Let’s find out!!
Madison Lake (Annabelle Wallis) is not in a particularly good place right now with her abusive husband (Jake Abel) who is constantly belittling her despite going through a rough pregnancy and even smashes her head against the wall after an argument over nothing. She locks herself in the room to deal with her splitting headache and her unborn child, but something goes bump in the night and she dreams of a dark figure that has killed her husband and chases her up the stairs. It turns out a lot more of that was real than she expected as she wakes up in the hospital to find her husband dead and sadly suffering from the after-effects of a miscarriage. Her sister Sydney (Maddie Hasson) tries to help her though this, but Madison prefers to be alone to deal with her grief. A few days after returning home however, she starts to see visions of a mysterious figure killing people, and every vision turns out to be true which catches the attention of the officers assigned to investigate her husband’s death (George Young and Regina Moss), and questions just keep piling up as to where these visions are coming from and what connection Madison may have to the dark figure committing these crimes. Is there something (or someone) in Madison’s past that connects her to the recent string of victims? Just what is this dark figure that Madison is seeing, and does it have a terrifying plan for her as well? Do those terrifying plans involve a make-over; because whatever it is, its idea of fashion died in the late nineties.
Aquaman and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures
Directed by James Wan
Well I guess this is one way to put 2018 to a close. It’s been over a year since the last DCCU film stumbled into theaters and failed to make back the ludicrous amount of money put into it, but since Warner Bros hasn’t given up just yet on turning their superheroes into box office gold (it worked for Wonder Woman at least!), we’re getting at least one more stab at making this initial run of movies work before moving onto what MIGHT be an entirely new continuity with Shazam next year along with another Wonder Woman movie. With nothing left in the tank and one more Hail Mary left to go, can Warner Bros and DC knock it out of the park as the year is coming to a close? Let’s find out!!
Following the events of Justice League, Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa) is just chilling with his dad (Temuera Morrison) and saving the occasional submarine from pirates. After a recent successful venture that left one particular pirate named David Kane (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) rather ticked off with our sub-nautical super hero, Arthur figured he’d just hang out at the bar for a bit before passing out somewhere. Sadly rest and booze is not in the cards at the moment as a fellow mer-person named Mera (Amber Heard) who we saw briefly in Justice League shows up to Warn Arthur that war is brewing and he’s the only one who can stop it. To explain this, we’ll need to do a bit of a FLASHBACK to the mid-eighties where his father Thomas and his mother first met. His mother JUST SO HAPPENED to be the runaway princess Atlanna of the Kingdom of Atlantis (Nicole Kidman) and fell in love with Thomas which eventually led to Arthur being born. However, after an attack from Atlantian soliders, Atlanna decides to go back to protect Arthur and become the bride of some dude who gets her pregnant and then chucks her into some dark hole in the sea after their son is born. Said son Orm (Patrick Wilson) is the current king of Atlantis and is consolidating power with the other mer-people tribes including the one that Mera belongs to which is ruled by her father Nereus (Dolph Lundgren). Did you get all that? Good, well Orm’s plan is to take over Surface World with an army of mer-people, but since Arthur is part of Atlantian Royalty by birthright, he can challenge Orm to the throne and turn around his expansionist policies before Surface World has to start nuking the ocean. Okay, so if Arthur wants to save the world (which he’s not too keen on but begrudgingly accepts) he has to stage a coup of some sort and convince the Atlantians of his right to rule. How the heck is he gonna do that!? Well, that’s where this other guy Nuidis (Willem Dafoe) comes in as he’s Orm’s head Vizier but has secretly been training Arthur this whole time and has a plan for him. Okay, MORE backstory. To sum it up, the first Atlantian King had a super powerful trident and if Arthur can find it, then his claim to rule will be that much more legitimate. Find the trident, avoid Orm’s army, and steer clear of that David guy who has a serious grudge now and may even have access to Atlantian technology to boot. Sounds reasonable enough, especially with Mera helping him out the whole time! Can Arthur solve the mysteries of his people’s past and find the one thing that will make him the ruler he was born to be? Even if he does find it, can he truly be a leader to these people given that he’s of both Surface World AND Water World lineage? Will he say MY MAN at least once in the movie!? Just once! It’s all I ask!!
The Nun and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures
Directed by Corin Hardy
I wasn’t even planning on seeing this film as my utter apathy to the Conjuring Universe knows no bounds; despite Annabelle: Creation being a pretty solid horror film which I ascribe entirely to roping in a very talented director. Then the weekend came up and there was literally no other movie I was going to see, so this one won by default; take a step forward to volunteer and everyone else took a step back. Does this latest entry in probably my least favorite expanded universe (at least on a conceptual level as The Warrens were in fact a bunch of fraudsters and I HATE that we’re making movies that pretend they weren’t) manage to rise above its lousy origins to give us something entertaining, or will I be forced to be reminded once again why I didn’t like that initial film in the first place? Let’s find out!!
Back in the 1950s, there was a castle in Romania where some spooky stuff was always going on. What kind of spooky stuff? Voices in the hallway, a fake demon nun appearing and disappearing in an instant, and oh yeah, A NUN THROWING HERSELF OUT OF A WINDOW WITH A NOOSE AROUND HER NECK!! Now my first guess it that she did it all for Damian but he wouldn’t be born for another twenty years, and instead it’s probably that demon nun that’s walking around the place. In The Vatican’s effort to be real life Ghostbusters, they send the disgraced Father Burke (Demián Bichir) out to solve this bizarre mystery; like a renegade cop getting his badge and his gun back. He takes along a Soon To Be Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga) because… I don’t remember; she has psychic powers or something? Anyway, the two of them head to Romania and are led to the castle by the man who discovered the nun’s body, and his name is… wait for it… Frenchie (Jona Bloquet). When this unlikely trio gets there, well you can imagine what happens! Lots of spooky ghost tricks, hidden dark rituals, and a horrifying history that will no doubt ensure at least a dozen more THE CONJURING UNIVERSE films! Can Father Burke and Sorta Sister Irene discover the true reason that the nun threw herself out a window in this dark and spooky castle? When they find what they are looking for, are they prepared to do what is necessary to stop that evil once and for all? Wait, why does a demon have to hide as a nun? It’s not like it does a good job of hiding how obviously evil they are and they can disappear at any time, so why even bother with the costume!?
The images in this editorial are the property of their respective owners
For ninety-nine percent of people out there who don’t get to go to Comic Con in person, our experience is basically a giant pile of news being dumped about upcoming movies and television shows, and while the coverage this year was overshadowed by the senseless firing of James Gunn (#RehireJamesGunn), there was still quite a bit of news worth paying attention to; especially some of the trailers that got released, and I’m not just talking about that crappy Titans one! So let’s go ahead and take a look at some (certainly not all) of the trailers that we saw for the first time this weekend!
Directed by David F Sandberg; Owned by Warner Bros Pictures
Billy Batson (Asher Angel) is your typical moody teenager who’s been placed in yet another foster home, but everything changes when the mystical space wizard SHAZAM (Djimon Hounsou) chooses him to inherit his spectacular powers.
I like what I see here, but what I’m seeing isn’t much. Granted this is the first trailer and we’ll surely see more as we get closer to the release date, but the UNIQUE SELLING POINT of this movie needs to be more than it NOT being like the last few DCCU movies. It’s brighter, it has genuine humor, and it focuses on the HERO part of being a Superhero. That’s all great, but it still feels REALLY lacking. The film looks VERY small in scale which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but a lack of spectacle needs to be compensated in other areas and I’m not really seeing much beyond DECENT in this trailer. I like Zachary Levi in the role and he seems very natural playing a boy in a super hero’s form, but his dialogue is far from sterling, and the cinematography seems kind of flat for the most part. I’m sure I’ll like this more than the overly ambitious Batman v Superman or the bloated but safe Justice League, but being light and family friendly doesn’t mean it has to be trivial and yet that’s a lot of what I’m getting out of this trailer. If nothing else though, they’ve got a GREAT director behind it as the guy made two of the better horror films of the last few years (Lights Out and Annabelle: Creation), so hopefully he’ll bring some of that creativity to this film even if this first trailer doesn’t quite get it across.
The Saw films and all the images you see in this retrospective are owned by Lionsgate Films
As mentioned in my Jigsaw review, I’ve had a somewhat complicated relationship with Saw franchise as I’m sure is the case with a lot of fans who somehow stuck with this series to the bloody end despite it inarguably getting worse and worse as it went along. Now this is hardly new for horror franchises (just look at the startling sharp drop the Halloween movies took) but to me Saw wasn’t just a series that got BAD or CHEESY as it went along; it got actively toxic. What do I mean by that? Well if you read the review I’ve now referenced twice already (SHARE IT WITH YOUR FRIENDS!!) you probably already know what that is, but let’s go ahead and take a look at this series from the beginning to see just how it managed to change and pervert its core concepts over time. Oh, and we’re going into TOTAL SPOILERS on these films, so only read if you’ve already binged watched them on Netflix or cannot be bothered to ever do so. Let’s get started!!
Two men (Cary Elwes and Leigh Whannell) find themselves locked in a room and chained to opposite sides of it with a dead guy right in the middle; presumably having shot his brains out given the blood on the floor and the gun in his hand. Eventually they find a few tapes left for them by the serial killer who locked them up there in the first place known only as Jigsaw. They only have so much time to get out of this trap before the killer starts looking towards their loved ones, and this means they may have to make some really tough decisions; ones that involve the titular saw of the movie.
I haven’t watched this movie in about a decade so going back to where it all started, ESPECIALLY after seeing what the series would ultimately turn into, was quite a shock as the original film has much more in common with Se7en than any of the other movies. To a certain extent it’s a bit unfair to compare this initial entry to the rest of the series as it ends up feeling like an outlier (similar to how the first Friday the 13th doesn’t even have Jason as the killer) but there are qualities to this that are sorely missed in the sequels. For one, Jigsaw isn’t the overwhelming and unstoppable force that he would become in later films and is also a downright sadistic mother fucker with no redeeming qualities. Later films went all in on the cult of Jigsaw which is one of the biggest failings of the entire series; not only because it puts forth a reprehensible world view, but it takes so much menace and danger away from Jigsaw as a character. The Jigsaw in this film (working through a character named Zep) isn’t given a platform to spout his faux-populist agenda and the film takes time to show just how horrific and unjustifiable his actions are; mostly through the extended sequences of Zep having to terrorize a mother and child while the game is going on. Compare this to the later films where even the INNOCENT victims barely get a semblance of humanity before becoming props in a giant shit show of moving parts and sharp metal, and you can see why things got so monotonous and smug as the series went along. Now I’m not about to tell you that this is a perfect movie by any stretch as the editing is rather poor and the performance by Danny Glover is surprisingly awful, but you can see why this first film managed to garner the reputation it did and why Lionsgate was so eager to turn it into a franchise. The only question is, now that we know who the killer is (the guy on the floor played by Tobin Bell was playing dead the whole time) where else could they really go?
Jigsaw and all the images you see in this review are owned by Lionsgate Films
Directed by Peter Spierig and Michael Spierig
I have a… complicated relationship with the Saw films as a few of them are ACTUALLY pretty solid thrillers, but ALL of them suffer from some fundamental problems that dogged this series throughout its seven film run; not to mention accruing brand new problems along the way that only made it harder and harder to take seriously. I guess that’s not unusual for a series like this as the downfall of horror favorites like Freddy, Jason, and Michael Myers are about as stark, but at least with THOSE films I found something to like even in the bad ones as the very loose commitment to continuity allowed for new voices and interesting ideas to permeate the series even when they were in a slump. Saw is one of the few franchise that took its continuity VERY seriously which is one of the many reasons the films became such a train wreck but is also why I’m genuinely interested to see where this one goes. Does this new iteration in the franchise right the course and set the stage for a whole new series of much better films, or should they have just let well enough alone? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins as most Saw movies do with someone dying in a horrible way. Okay, maybe not THAT horrible as he simply gets shot by the cops, but what appears to be just a car chase gone badly soon reveals itself to be the start of a new Jigsaw game which Detective Halloran (Callum Keith Rennie) is itching to solve along with his partner Detective Hunt (Clé Bennett) and forensic pathologists back at the station (Matt Passmore and Hannah Emily Anderson). As the game goes through the usual Saw paces of picking off its victims (Laura Vandervoort, Mandela Van Peebles, Paul Braunstein, and Brittany Allen) the bodies start showing up around town to mock the detectives’ lack of progress and to give them subtle clues that will lead them to solving this mystery. The biggest mystery though is how exactly these games are going on as John Kramer (Tobin Bell) who was the original Jigsaw killer has been dead for over a decade and as far as we know all his protégées have bit the dust by now. Okay, maybe not Dr Gordon, but if this movie wants to ignore what happened in THE FINAL CHAPTER, I’m perfectly fine with that. Who is REALLY behind this latest round of murders and could it somehow be John Kramer coming back from beyond the grave? What do the latest victims of the Jigsaw Killer have in common, and what will they need to sacrifice in order get out of these deadly traps? Seriously, how many of those freaking puppets did he make anyway!?
Annabelle: Creation and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures
Directed by David F Sandberg
I’m gonna let you all in on a little secret. I absolutely HATE The Conjuring. Seriously, my hatred for that movie may not be on par with something as dreadful as Incarnate, but I was completely miserable while watching it. Even if you ignore the rather gross way it tries to legitimize (or at the very least sensationalize) a pair of “paranormal investigators” who have been bilking people out of money for decades. I mean sure, this is true of ANY of those assholes who purport to be super natural experts (outside of those groups that dress up as Ghostbusters) but it just irks me how a talented cast coupled with a talented director were being wasted on what is essentially propaganda for fraudsters because SPOILER ALERT, GHOSTS AREN’T REAL! I can suspend my disbelief for a movie or basically any work of fiction, but The Conjuring crossed that line by not only claiming to be BASED ON A TRUE STORY, but by doing so in a way that would only boost the supposed validity of people that clearly didn’t deserve it. Anyway, rant over. My hatred over the first movie kept me from seeing the sequel which got GOOD reviews as well as the Annabelle movie which… didn’t. Seemingly realizing the hole they dug themselves into, Warner Bros is trying to pull a Ouija: Origin of Evil; not just because they got the same actress from THAT movie, but by creating a retro prequel that looks to have nothing to do with the other film. Sounds like a good movie as far as I’m concerned. ANYTHING to get us as far away from The Warrens as humanly possible! Does their gamble to distance themselves from the first crappy movie manage to pay off, or was this a bad idea then and an even worse idea now? Let’s find out!!
Back in the good ol’ days before polio vaccines were widely available, there was a little girl named Annabelle (Samara Lee) who got the Pet Semetary treatment, i.e. she got hit by a car that REALLY should have been going a lot slower! Her parents Samuel and Esther (Anthony LaPaglia and Miranda Otto) get very depressed with the latter even suffering from some sort of degenerative disease, but they eventually open their doors to a group of orphans who have nowhere else to go. The two main orphan girls Janice and Linda (Talitha Bateman and Lulu Wilson) soon realize that weird stuff is going on with the former even finding a mysterious doll in Annabelle’s old room. Okay, not so much her room but what looks to be a War Room that’s been secretly carved into her wall… for some reason. Anyway, we eventually find out that the doll houses some sort of demon that was passing itself off as the ghost of Annabelle, but the parents found out and locked it away! I figure they should have BURNED the damn thing instead, but I guess locking it behind a not-so-secret door and leaving the key out so that practically ANYONE could find it was a good option too! And so Janice spends the rest of the movie trying to convince her fellow orphans as well as Sister Charlotte (Stephanie Sigman) that something weird is going on, but no one other than Linda seems to take it seriously which can only mean that things are gonna get worse and worse in the house as Demon Annabelle is free to roam the halls and I guess extract its revenge. Can Janice and Linda survive the near constant onslaught of spookiness brought about by the demon? Will everyone else wise up to what’s going on before it’s too late? How does someone make this doll and the NOT expect it to be a demon magnet!?