Annabelle Comes Home (2019) – No Dolls Allowed

Released: 26th June
Seen: 3rd July

The Conjuring universe never seems to know when to stop trying to grow. With seven movies out since 2013, the low budget horror series has become a staple of horror cinema and really resurrected the haunted house genre. It’s been stumbling a bit lately though, with last years The Nun making a lot of money but getting savaged critically (I was mostly OK with the film, but I was also really early into my critical phase) and thisyears The Curse Of La Llorona which not only did badly with critics but it’s the lowest earning film in the franchise. Sure, it still made over $100million on a budget of $9million but that movie is a sign that maybe this style of horror might not be working as well… it’s certainly getting to the point where we’re beginning to see the cracks in this franchise thanks to the repetition, which leads us nicely to Annabelle Comes Home.

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Child’s Play (2019) – This IS The End, Friend

Released: 20th June
Seen: 20th June

In 1988, a horror icon was born. Poking fun at the popularity of Cabbage Patch Dolls, Child’s Play showed us what would happen if one of those cherubic collectable toys ended up being possessed by a vicious serial killer who needed to put his soul into the body of a young child. The film was a box office success, pulling in around $44 million worldwide on a budget of only $9million. It spawned four theatrically released sequels and two VOD releases with the most recent one, Cult of Chucky, getting released two years ago. There’s also a TV series coming out on Syfy next year that’s currently being called Chucky and will bring back the legendary serial killing doll. It’s a series that has a loyal fan base who have followed the series from day one and it’s easily in my top 5 favourite horror franchises. I enjoy the series so much that I have even defended the much-maligned Seed of Chucky, which I still feel is an underrated gem that just happened to come out at the exact wrong time. Basically, the franchise is pretty much perfect as it is and doesn’t need a remake… but thanks to some fun legalese where the Child’s Play name isn’t owned by the creators of the franchise (because intellectual property law is fun and not at all pointlessly convoluted), MGM didn’t need to get permission to reboot the franchise that’s still alive and kicking and so now here we are with Child’s Play (2019)… because remakes of classic 80’s slashers never go horribly wrong, except for every single time they remake a classic 80’s slasher.

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The Dead Don’t Die (2019) – Zombie Or Not Zombie

Released: 24th October (General Release)
Seen: 17th June (Sydney Film Festival)

It’s been said before, I shall say it again, there is no element of pop culture that has been used more often than the Zombie. Maybe Jesus has been used more often, but not by much. Everything nowadays has a zombie element to it. One of the most popular TV series right now is a Zombie show, every 4th game released has a zombie mode in it, you can buy zombie-shaped slippers for crying out loud. Zombies are everywhere nowadays and they’ve been done in so many ways that a truly original take on them is almost impossible to find. The last real original Zombie movie I saw was one called Anna and the Apocalypse; I never got around to reviewing that film but it was a Christmas Zombie Musical Comedy set in England and it’s every bit as glorious as that combination sounds. I bring that film up because it’s a great example of what happens when you have several film ideas (a Christmas film, a zombie film and a high school musical comedy) and make them work together. The Dead Don’t Die however is what happens when you have several film ideas, smash them together violently, hold them together with Scotch tape and present it as a complete work. Weirdly, it kind of works… kind of.

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The Perfection (2019) – It Played Me Like A Fiddle

Released: 24th May
Seen: 11th June

The genre of Horror comes with many subgenres, a lot of flavours that keep it interesting. The genre itself is so extraordinary and wild that it can go from the mental destruction caused by a Psychological horror to the elaborate gore of a slasher, to the homemade hell of Found Footage. Every subgenre has its own little quirks and tricks, its own landmark films and dedicated fan base. Heck, even fans of the horror genre have subgenres they love and ones they loathe. I, for example, am a big fan of the fun cheesy slashers but I always get irritated by found footage films. So, what sub-genre would I put a movie like The Perfection into? Is “HOLY SHIT” a subgenre? Because I believe I want to make it a subgenre.

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Brightburn (2019) – Look, Up In The Sky!

Released: 23rd May
Seen:22nd May (Advance Screening)

Later this year we’re going to be getting an animated TV series focussed around the What If comic series. A very simple setup, the series would ask questions like “What if Iron Man had been a traitor?” or “What if Sgt. Fury had fought World War II in outer space?” It’s a fascinating idea that allows for some potentially funny and potentially silly results. It’s also an idea that would allow Superheroes to appear in something other than a big bombastic action film. It’s with this in mind that I walked into Brightburn with a general sense of excitement because the promotional trailers told me right away that this was going to be answering a “What If…?” question that I didn’t even know that I wanted the answer to… What if Damien from The Omen turned out to be Superman?

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I Spit On Your Grave: Deja Vu (2019) – This Reminds Me Of Something… Something Awful

Released: 23rd April
Seen: 29th April

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In 1978, the film I Spit On Your Grave was unleashed onto an unsuspecting public. Directed by first time director Meir Zarchi, the film was soon branded as one of the most shocking pieces of exploitation cinema to ever be released. While I Spit On Your Grave might not be the first film in the exploitation subgenre known as the Rape-Revenge film, it’s certainly the most infamous due to its brutality and the rawness of the lead performance. It’s not a great film by any means but it does earn its place in history as a piece of exploitation cinema, the likes of which we had never seen before. It was even remade in 2010 with a proper budget and filming equipment… and then Meir Zarchi decided he wanted to pick up a camera again and, since nobody tackled him to the ground while screaming ‘NO!’ loudly as they could, we ended up being saddled with I Spit On Your Grave: Deja Vu. Buckle up, this is going to hurt.

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The Curse Of The Weeping Woman (2019) – Big Ghosts Don’t Cry

Released: 18th April
Seen: 19th April

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The Conjuring universe is one of the strangest cinematic universes that we’ve had in recent years. While other cinematic universes, like the one that Marvel has basically defined over the last decade, will have several standalone films that build up to a major event picture, the Conjuring Universe does things a little differently. It has the main central series which follows Ed and Lorraine Warren in their paranormal haunts (while never actually addressing the legitimate criticism that the Warren’s are basically doing an elaborate carnival act and preying on people’s fears) and then they put a creepy monster of some kind in those Conjuring movies and that monster will spin off into its own origin movie. Those origin movies tend to be painful to watch, with Annabelle being a snoozefest with no logic and even less thought put into it that basically relied on the movie Annabelle: Creation to salvage the concept while The Nun was basically average if I was being kind and if I were to re-review that film today I’d probably put it at 2.5/5 instead of a 3/5 but hey, that’s the fun thing about seeing every movie you can. The more you see the more you look back and have different opinions on different films. I have a distinct feeling though that when I look back on this film I’m going to still think it was basically a waste of time while also being a horrific waste of potential.

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Hellboy (2019) – Aww, Hell!

Released: 11th April
Seen: 11th April

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In 1993 the comic book artist Mike Mignola created the character of Hellboy for Dark Horse comics. A demon-human hybrid, the character became a big enough hit with readers to get an adaptation in 2004 with the movie Hellboy that was written and directed by Guillermo del Toro who managed to turn it into a minor box office hit, pulling in almost 100 million worldwide on a 66 million budget. It got enough critical praise and a cult following to get Universal to shell out for a sequel with the same cast and same creative team, 4 years later letting out Hellboy 2: The Golden Army which fared even better, netting almost 160 million on an 85 million budget and (at least as far as I’m concerned) was just a better movie all around. Now it’s a decade later and rebooting old franchises is all the rage, and Guillermo Del Toro is coming off of two Oscar wins for his beloved film The Shape of Water so now would be the perfect time to get him to come back, drag Ron Perlman with him to don the red latex again and knock everyone out with an amazing Hellboy movie… or you could just get a bunch of completely different people to try and make money off the name alone and hope to god no one actually cares about being entertained, that’s a valid option.

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Pet Sematary (2019) – Sometimes Dead Isn’t Better

Released: 4th April
Seen: 3rd April (Advanced Screening)

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Picture it. Hollywood, 1989. The film Pet Sematary, based on the 1983 Stephen King novel of the same name, was released to cinemas to some serious aplomb. Getting really great critical reviews and slamming the box office, it’s currently the 5th highest earning Stephen King adaptation before you account for inflation (after inflation it gets to 6th). It’s a genuine masterpiece of horror that leans more on the concepts than actual scares and lets the situation itself be where the horror comes from. With genuinely great performances by most of the cast (let’s just pretend the lead actor isn’t in this discussion), it’s a film that you absolutely need to see because it’s a genuine heart stopper… and because knowing about what happens in the original actually makes this movie have a much more powerful effect on you as an audience member.

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Us (2019) -Me And My Shadow

Released: 28th March
Seen: 28th March

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In 2017 the film Get Out was released in cinemas and it was nothing short of a phenomenon. No one expected it, Jordan Peele was a comic mostly known for his work with Key and Peele or MADtv and now he was going to direct a horror movie? His first time directing was going to be a horror film? It was a weird thought at the time and when Get Out finally hit screens, it was like an atom bomb went off. No one saw that coming, people started tearing it apart looking for all the subtle little tricks he hid in it. People literally had debates on if a shot of a woman eating fruit loops was a visual metaphor for segregation, that’s how nuts the reaction to that film got. I personally named it the best film of 2017, which is only slightly less prestigious than the Oscar that it won.  It made one hell of an impact, followed right away by the burning question “So, how will Jordan Peele follow this?” which was answered this year… and it’s such a good answer.

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