Monday, October 6, 2014

Moonlight Movie Reviews - Annabelle (Also, a word about this month regarding this site and the Alamo Drafthouse)

Okay, ready for this....

I know, sick, right? Well, that's our Annabelle...

A few days back, the night before its official release date in fact (yup, I could have had an absurdly timely review up for this film, but life makes lemons... or whatever), I caught the first viewing possible for this one over at the Lakeline Drafthouse here in Austin. My sister is a huge fan of the Conjuring and I loved it too, and I'm a big Insidious fan, so we were both eager to see this Conjuring prequel/spinoff. Using those terms loosely though, as you don't have to have seen The Conjuring to follow Annabelle at all. But, I'm getting ahead of myself.

First, your taste of the Alamo Drafthouse preshow, heavy on the creepy doll theme...

Yeah, it was pretty wackadoo! Anyways, once that was over and there was a beautiful pizza laid out in front of me, I settled in for the feature. I wasn't quite sure what to expect. All I can say was, I was hoping it would be as scary as the other films associated with it through James Wan, who was not directing this time, just producing. And I was especially hoping it wouldn't be a Chucky sorta thing. Not that I don't love Chucky, but that's Chucky. This is Annabelle...

And it's bad enough that Annabelle is one of the creepiest looking dolls I've ever seen, so I really have to suspend disbelief to expect that anyone would want her sitting on a shelf in their home, or anywhere in their home. In reality (yes, there's a real-life Annabelle), the Annabelle is a large Raggedy Ann doll. Frankly, that would have been much scarier to me, AND more believable. BUT, by now I am used to the fact that film-Annabelle looks ridiculously scary, like a giant Living Dead Doll or something, so I was ready to just go with it.

Incidentally, two lovely young ladies without dates were occupying the seat to my right, which rarely happens. Kinda made me hope the movie was extra scary. Don't we guys like to imagine the girl next to us might forget herself and grab our arm at a chilling scene! Of course, that never happens, especially when you're with your sister and everyone thinks you're on a date, and especially when you're a chubster. Oh well. We also had Ryanne as our server, one of the cutest and sweetest the Drafthouse has to offer, so, again, love to hangout with my sis, but sometimes it sucks the way it makes me not appear single, even if it wouldn't matter much either way. It also makes me look like an asshole with wandering eyes. Ugh. Let me get back to the movie though.

So, Annabelle is the story of a young couple in the late 60's who are expecting their first baby. Hmm, I am going to try to not give big spoilers here, because this is the kind of film in which they'll matter. Let's just say that a traumatic event happens in the beginning of the film that causes the Annabelle doll to be linked to a demonic presence that plagues the couple throughout the film. They relocate in an attempt to escape from the evil that's pursuing them, and they also enlist the aid of a kindly priest and a nearby occult bookstore owner. That's... really probably about all of the plot I should giveaway, and even that might be more than you wanted.

Now, I'm gonna get into the good and bad about this film, but first I'm going to flat out say that I overall enjoyed it a lot. I wasn't sure I was going too, it really does take a while to get going, and that's fine when you have strong enough characters, but... these characters were probably the weakest part of the film. However, it manages to carry itself anyway by being, frankly, truly scary. Extremely scary, in fact, and hardly at all due to the doll in a direct way. No, thankfully, this did not turn out to be a movie about a doll running around stabbing people. Not at all.

Yes, Annabelle was a truly scary movie. It's well-made and the scary scenes are sooo well done. A lot of people are accusing this film of being too much like films that came before it. I don't agree. Sure, there have been movies about haunted objects and demons and other stuff we see in this film, even from the same line, but I haven't seen such effectively executed scares before, and they are truly what carry the film. That and the fact that it is very well made and works in some great, disturbing stuff (like the traumatic incident in the beginning), and it makes for a great horror experience. The negative falls on the characters of the lead couple (not necessarily the actors, but the characters), probably largely due to the writing, and the climax, which wasn't really the best, nor all that well executed. To take those one at a time, the couple who are the leads of the film do a fine job with the acting, they just are a bit too bland, and since they don't have kids or anyone else to work with for most of the film, that's... not good. They are just this perfect couple, pretty milktoast, perhaps too good looking to give me that "I feel like I'm watching one of those great 60's/70's horror films" vibe, and the most interesting thing about them is the traumatic experience in the beginning of the film. That and eventually that they have the cutest baby ever. A real scene-stealer. And that's good, because the audience does need to be pretty concerned about this baby. As for the climax, well, I'll grant the nay-sayers that it certainly is one of the least original aspects of the film. It's also just not that great of a resolution, and even the execution could have been better. There's a character in the film who, let's just say things are resolved by an act that would have been far more impactful if we had heard the thud. We didn't though, and that must have been a conscious decision from the director.

So, yeah, Annabelle was not a perfect film. It is another story about a haunted couple, but it is a freaky one with some of the best scare sequences I've ever seen, and they're so good that they do make up for the film's shortcomings. I am recommending this one highly, though not saying it is as amazing and wonderful as The Conjuring, but it may have the scariest scenes from all of these types of pictures that have been coming out lately, and that's definitely worth something in my book. I just wish they'd spent a bit more time writing and developing the characters and climax to go with it. Still, don't miss this one this Halloween if really good scares are enough to make it worthwhile for ya!

And, admittedly, I wrote that review pretty quickly. It's well past my bedtime for a work night, so I'm ready to go, but I also want to say a few things really quickly about what's happening this October. First, as for the site, there's a lot I want to do and say, I have some guest articles from friends planned, and I welcome any other interested contributors. You who read this site know the kind of stuff we talk about, and how much we love holidays, movies, cartoons, candy, and stuff like that. I have for a long time been talking about getting back to doing the Moonlight Motel comic strip regularly, and you know I do my best to at least have an October strip up every year. I'm hoping, especially since I hope next October I might have a table at Wizard World Texas, to start this month with getting back to making the strip a much more frequent thing. It's just been really difficult with the day job and a lot of other things that have happened over the past few years since my parents got ill and my father passed. A lot has happened during and since. I really want to bring my strip back to life again though, and that's why I've kept this website going, and I really hope this month we'll kick that off with a new strip before the month is over.

Now, for the problem we've been encountering. The computer I use for this site has been a pain lately. It crashes a lot and I have just received a second warning from Time Warner about bot infection or similar bad things coming from my computer that could lead to losing our internet connection all together. This means that this month, in fact, any day now, I need to do a full system restore, making this computer factory fresh again, simply because I'm out of ideas of what else to do. That might be easy enough (assuming we can get all the desired files off of it first), except our Windows 7 disc is nowhere to be found! So, I can't do the restore until I know what I'm gonna do about Windows, and I'm too flat broke to buy Windows again right now... So, here's hoping this gets sorted out quickly and without trouble within the next week and weekend, and that it takes care of all the trouble we've been having with this comp and the cable company. They like to use scary words in their notices, and I really don't know what they're talking about.

Anywhozits, let me round this out with a word about the Drafthouse and all the awesome things they have to do this Halloween season! I wanna let you know because there are some things I am dying to do myself, and I know for a fact I am going to miss out on a few of my most wanted experiences because they're happening THIS WEEK! And man, my purse strings are TIGHT right now! In fact, I haven't got a dollar till this Friday, and most of that is spoken for (by my car, who needs oil and other things).

For one thing, tomorrow night, actually, tonight by the time I get this posted, Terror Tuesdays will be showing a movie I have been waiting to catch at Terror Tuesdays for like a couple years now, "Night Train to Terror"! Man, I bet it's going to be a riot! That movie is HILARIOUS!!! Unintentionally! It is one bad, hacked together movie, and it is AMAZING! Oh, how I wanted to see that with the Terror Tuesday crowd! I haven't made it to a Terror Tuesday in forever! Alas, I am flat busted! I mean, I'm broke! Can't even do the 3 bucks for the Terror Tuesday ticket (well, 4, because there's a charge online, and then you usually have to pay to park downtown... oy). Boy, if you have the chance, make it out to that one! And, this weekend, a monster themed Cartoon Cereal Party! I love those! I have only been to one Cartoon Cereal Party, about 2 Halloweens ago, I think, and it was awesome! I have been wanting to make it out to another one forever! But, it's always on Saturdays, and I work till 3 on Saturdays at my current job! So, yeah, maybe if I hadn't called in sick last Tuesday, but it was necessary. Still, that's another I highly recommend!

Besides that, they'll be screening one of my favorite films of all-time this month, "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein", along with Ghostbusters, the ultimate Halloween must-watch film: Hocus Pocus, and tons of other great stuff! Be sure to checkout their website weekly for all the info on what not to miss! A lot of the great stuff for Halloween is happening THIS WEEK! Now, there'll be more all month, Rosemary's Baby, Shaun of the Dead, The Exorcist, Little Shop of Horrors, an October 25th horror movie marathon, and more! but you don't want to miss anything! I'm so upset at how much I'm gonna miss, but hopefully I'll catch something before the month is out and have a night at the local Blue Starlite Drive-In too.

Oh yeah, and how come no one told me that MST3K's Mary Jo Pehl, AKA Pearl Forrester, has been on the Master Pancake team lately? When did this start?! I just heard this Friday is her final night, and I didn't even know! Heck, I've yet to see Master Pancake at all, and we all know I should probably be a member of that team too. If you've ever watched a movie with me when I'm riffing, whoa mama, I'm the king! Well, that sucks. I'm sure it'll be sold out by the time I get paid on Friday. Them's the breaks, kids. I gotta go. I'm looking at about 4 hours sleep at this point, at best. Hopefully I'll be back with more real soon. I'll leave you with my pile of Halloween loot so far...

Yep, last week, when I WASN'T broke but didn't know Night Train to Terror (among other stuff) would be on the Drafthouse schedule so soon, I did pick up my monster cereals for this month, as well as a few Halloween specials that have been on my list for a while. I like to make my own Cartoon Cereal Parties, especially during Halloween. Perfect time to watch my DVDs of Real Ghostbusters, Drak Pack, Sabrina, Scooby-Doo, Billy and Mandy and more... Not to mention the specials of the day, like the ones we see here. FINALLY got those Scary Godmother specials, and also finally got that hacked together Bugs Bunny classic I grew up with. It's usually overpriced, but this time Wal-Mart had it at 5 bucks! Yeah, definitely go check out your local Wal-Mart! They have a ton of great Halloween DVDs this year! I certainly would like to swing buy and pick up a couple more before the month is out. Be sure to check out Target and Big Lots too, and last I checked, Best Buy didn't have any Halloween displays out, but by now that's probably changed. Wal-Mart really blew me away with how much great stuff they had though, and not just Halloween stuff. They even had Season 1 of that new Mickey Mouse cartoon show (yes, I picked it up). Apparently, it's been out for a couple months already as a Wal-Mart exclusive, though a wider release is on the way (but why wait?). Okay kiddies, that's it for now, for real! See ya next time! 

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