Reel Reviews: Fake and real horror

By on August 16, 2017

‘Annabelle: Creation’

Boo! That’s the way you scare up an audience at the cinema these days. “Annabelle: Creation,” the origin-story sequel to director John R. Leonetti’s 2014 “Annabelle,” easily topped the box office over the weekend. For this installment, New Line Cinema tapped director David Sandberg from the successful “Lights Out” to try and shine a little magic on a story that, in my opinion, is growing a bit old.

Annabelle is a demonically possessed doll who feeds on the souls of children and any who may stand in its way. In “Annabelle: Creation” we learn how parents Esther (Miranda Otto, “War of the Worlds”) and Samuel Mullins (Anthony LaPaglia, TV’s “Without a Trace”) summoned the beast in order to get more time with their tragically deceased daughter. Enter Sister Charlotte (Stephanie Sigman) and a band of orphan girls. Here is the bright spot, Talitha Bateman, who plays a handicapped Janice and ultimate first victim. (That’s no spoiler. It’s deadly obvious. Pun intended.)

“It was a really good movie,” said Janet R. of Lancaster while visiting Penn Cinema during the movie’s premiere showing.

Well, we will just have to agree to disagree. I was simply bored. The coolest part was trying to spot the little, subtle bits of demonic presence hidden in shadows and old photographs. Otherwise, watching this movie was just going through the motions to get to the next installment — and, yes, there is more in store. Stay tuned…or not.

“Annabelle: Creation,” the fourth installment in The Conjuring franchise, is still drawing moviegoers to the box office. (Image from New Line Cinema)


Despite some hardline historical detractor’s dissatisfaction with “Dunkirk,” the one hour and 56-minute look at the events surrounding the World War II battle on the western shore of France, has a tight grip on moviegoers during a serious downtime at the box office.

Now in its fifth week, “Dunkirk” is hanging tough and bested openings from “The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature” and “The Glass Castle.” Even Stephen King’s “The Dark Tower” couldn’t hang as people mostly avoided theaters for the second straight week.

“Dunkirk” tells a four-sided tale of the defense and evacuation of British and Allied forces in Europe from May 26 to June 4, 1940, through the eyes of British infantryman Tommy (newcomer Fionn Whitehead) and an unnamed Frenchman played by French actor Damien Bonnard; small vessel captain Mr. Dawson (Mark Rylance) and his young crew; British fighter pilot Farrier (Tom Hardy, “The Revenant”); and British brass Commander Bolton (Kenneth Branagh) and Colonel Winnant (James D’Arcy). From the home front to the front lines, in the sky and under the sea, the tale of defeat rages on the big screen in epic human tragedy capturing the horrors of war.

I’m not a World War II historian, so I have no dog in the fight over historical accuracy, but what I can say is this movie can be downright confusing if you take your eyes off the screen. The action not only jumps from place to place, but through time itself as we learn the fates of men before their culminating actions, see their demise before their hardships, and relish their successes before we get a chance to realize there is victory in defeat.

“Dunkirk” is a great cinematic work; it tells a tale in a way that engulfs the viewer. The subject matter is the draw. The acting is solid (even Harry Styles, formerly of the boy band One Direction, gets a line in the action). Against a more formidable flick “Dunkirk” may have been buried already, but as it stands, it is the best “newer” film now showing. I’ll watch it again just to see what I missed the first time around.

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