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Anthony Le

5 Westerns to Get You Ready for The Sisters Brothers

Premiering at Venice Film Festival and TIFF to great reviews, Jacques Audiard’s The Sisters Brothers is set to release in Canada on October 5th. Westerns, which mostly disappeared after a period of overwhelming popularity between the 40’s and 60’s. With The Magnificent Seven remake in 2016, and The Wild Bunch remake set to release in the near future, the genre seems to be making somewhat of comeback. In anticipation of The Sisters Brothers, here are five westerns to get you in the mood:

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The House With a Clock In Its Walls – A Terrifying Kids Film (Early Review)

The House With a Clock In Its Walls is a jumble of ideas, very few of which actually meet their fullest potential.

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TIFF 2018: The Fireflies Are Gone Review

This will be one of many reviews during this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. If you would like to keep up with our content, click here.

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TIFF 2018: Nekrotronic Review

This will be one of many reviews during this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. If you would like to keep up with our content, click here.

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Revisiting The Conjuring Universe

The Conjuring universe has been a staple in modern horror, releasing 5 films in the last 6 years. While they haven’t all exactly been great, one can’t help but be excited for each coming entry. In preparation for The Nun, set to release this Friday, September 7th, we’ve put together a ranking of the other four films in the Conjuring universe.


Annabelle (2014)

Synopsis: She terrified you in The Conjuring, but this is where it all began for Annabelle. Capable of unspeakable evil, the actual doll exists locked up in an occult museum in Connecticut—visited only by a priest who blesses her twice a month. New Line Cinema’s supernatural thriller Annabelle begins before the evil was unleashed. John Form has found the perfect gift for his expectant wife, Mia—a beautiful, rare vintage doll in a pure white wedding dress. But Mia’s delight with Annabelle doesn’t last long. On one horrific night, their home is invaded by members of a satanic cult, who violently attack the couple. Spilled blood and terror are not all they leave behind. The cultists have conjured an entity so malevolent that nothing they did will compare to the sinister conduit to the damned that is now… Annabelle(Warner Bros.)

Starring: Ward Horton, Annabelle Wallis, and Alfre Woodard

Writer: Gary Dauberman

Director: John R. Leonetti

Rating: 14A (Canada)/R (United States)

Running Time: 99mins

Trailer: 

Annabelle lacks everything that people praised about the two Conjuring films. First off, the story is completely derivative, which isn’t necessarily always a bad thing. Yet, Leonetti doesn’t elevate Annabelle to anything more than a boring string of jump scares.

The decision to focus on characters other than Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farminga) seems misguided, as they are the most interesting parts about The Conjuring. The lead characters in Annabelle don’t represent people that you can really root for, and once the demon latches onto the family, the audience isn’t invested in the outcome. Nothing about Annabelle really works, other than doll itself, which is as creepy as ever. There are certainly still some scares throughout the film, but not nearly enough to warrant its runtime.

Annabelle certainly has the potential to be terrifying, as shown in the opening moments of the original Conjuring. Despite the potential, Annabelle falls completely flat.

Score: 3.5/10


Annabelle: Creation (2017) 

(original review here)

Synopsis: She’s back! In Annabelle: Creation, several years after the tragic death of their little girl, a doll maker and his wife welcome a nun and several girls from a shuttered orphanage into their home. They soon become the target of the doll maker’s possessed creation, Annabelle. (Warner Bros.)

Starring: Anthony LaPaglia, Samara Lee, and Miranda Otto

Writer: Gary Dauberman

Director: David F. Sandberg

Rating: 14A (Canada)/R (United States)

Running Time: 109mins

Trailer: 

Released in 2017, Annabelle: Creation is meant to be an origin story for the Annabelle doll. Although it improves on many of the flaws present in Annabelle, Annabelle: Creation never really proves why it needed to exist. Sure, it provided some context for where exactly this doll came from, but it doesn’t really answer many of the essential questions raised in the other films. It is suspenseful, it is scary, and it’s well-acted: three things we’ve come to expect in Conjuring films. The story, though, doesn’t live up to the degree of talent involved in this film. It drags at many parts throughout its runtime, which could’ve easily been cut down to 90 minutes without losing anything substantial. It’s overlong and overstuffed, but that’s far better than lacking substance like 2013’s Annabelle.

Annabelle: Creation is not a bad installment in the Conjuring franchise, but knowing the talent involved and the potential of the characters, it could’ve been significantly better. Compared to The Conjuring films, it doesn’t measure up in any of the departments, but is sufficiently entertaining and still an intense horror film.

Score: 6/10


The Conjuring (2013)

(original review here)

Synopsis: Before there was Amityville, there was Harrisville. Based on a true story, The Conjuring tells the horrifying tale of how world renowned paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren were called upon to help a family terrorized by a dark presence in a secluded farmhouse. Forced to confront a powerful demonic entity, the Warrens find themselves caught in the most terrifying case of their lives. (Warner Bros.)

Starring: Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, and Ron Livingston

Writer: Chad Hayes, Carey W. Hayes

Director: James Wan

Rating: 14A (Canada)/R (United States)

Running Time: 112mins

Trailer:

When The Conjuring was released in 2013, no one really knew what to expect. At the time, the main horror universe was the Paranormal Activity franchise, which was going downhill with each passing film. So, the question was, did we really need another horror franchise? The Conjuring proves that the horror formula can be turned into something great. The story is quite standard and follows the same trajectory as many other possession films. What is does it make everything bigger, more intense, and scarier.

Oh, and let’s not forget about Ed and Lorraine Warren. Based on real paranormal investigators, Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga will go down as two of the most interesting horror characters ever put to screen. Wan takes the time to develop these characters as real people, with a family of their own to care for. When they’re thrown into this haunting, the audience is invested in what happens not only to the family that the demon has latched onto, but also the Warrens as well.

The Conjuring is just great filmmaking. Prior to The Conjuring, James Wan had shown that he was a capable director, especially with the first Saw film. He’s obviously interested in characters, which is what he brings to the table for the first Conjuring film. It’s not typically something that’s seen in horror films (especially large studio ones), and that’s what makes The Conjuring so refreshing.

Score: 8.5/10


The Conjuring 2 (2016)

(original review here)

Synopsis: New Line Cinema’s supernatural thriller The Conjuring 2, with James Wan once again at the helm following the record-breaking success of The Conjuring, brings to the screen another real case from the files of renowned demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren. Reprising their roles, Oscar nominee Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson, star as Lorraine and Ed Warren, who, in one of their most terrifying paranormal investigations, travel to north London to help a single mother raising four children alone in a house plagued by malicious spirits. (Warner Bros.)

Starring: Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, and Madison Wolfe

Writer: Chad Hayes, Carey W. Hayes

Director: James Wan

Rating: 14A (Canada)/R (United States)

Running Time: 134mins

Trailer:

It’s unusual when a horror film is 134 minutes long. That’s nearly two and a half hours that you have to keep the audience invested, scared and on the edge of their seat. Yet, they were able to pull it off for The Conjuring 2. Again, it tells a fairly standard family and the paranormal experiences they’re subjected to. The film is also the one that introduced The Nun, who is set to become a lead antagonist in at least one other film in the franchise.

The reason The Conjuring 2 is ranked above the original is that is takes all the good things about the first film, and it maximizes them. If you though The Conjuring focused on Ed and Lorraine Warren, wait until The Conjuring 2. The actors fade away, and we really start to believe that Wilson and Farmiga are the Warrens. We find out a lot more about their character’s motivations, and the extents to which they’re willing to be pushed to. It’s still just as a scary as any of its predecessors, but it is great filmmaking.

The Conjuring 2 capitalizes on everything it has going for it. James Wan recognizes the importance of what he did in the first Conjuring film, and continues in the same way. It really is one of the best horror films of the 21st century, and sets a high bar for The Conjuring 3.

Score: 9.5/10


The Nun, the next installment in The Conjuring franchise, opens in theatres on September 7th.

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Trench 11 – An Intense Canadian Horror Film (Early Review)

Though Trench 11 is certainly flawed, it’s still entertaining enough.

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Short Term 12: Does It Hold Up 5 Years Later?

Released five years ago today, Short Term 12 was met with widespread praise from critics and audiences alike. It features Brie Larson in her breakout role, and follows her character, Grace, as she navigates her personal life and her job as a supervisor at a short term foster-care facility. Five years later, does the film hold up as one of the best of 2013?

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The Spy Who Dumped Me Poster

The Spy Who Dumped Me – A Wasted Buddy Comedy (Early Review)

Although Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon are undeniably talented actresses, even they can’t save this film from feeling disappointingly mediocre.

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