Duets: Annabelle and The Sacrament

the sacrament 2

I know, I know—another Duet. They’re just…so much easier than full-length reviews. However, I just saw a film that undoubtedly warrants a lengthier review (and you can probably guess the film), so expect that sometime next week. In the meantime, I saw two thoroughly mediocre horror films because I am apparently a glutton for punishment. One is currently in theaters, and the other came out on DVD not too long ago. So let’s discuss sing a little duet, shall we?

Annabelle

annabelle

Synopsis: “A couple begin to experience terrifying supernatural occurrences involving a vintage doll shortly after their home is invaded by satanic cultists.” –www.imdb.com

The High Notes:

  • The title doll herself, Annabelle. Let’s face it—vintage toys are creepy as all get out. Annabelle is the queen of these terrifying toys. Seriously, I don’t think there has ever been such a scary doll in the long history of scary dolls.
  • The clever little nods to Rosemary’s Baby. The two lead characters, Mia (Annabelle Wallis) and John (Ward Horton) have the same names as the lead actors in the classic horror film. Plus, the film focuses on pregnancy/a baby, and there’s a stroller that looks a lot like in Rosemary’s Baby. It’s pretty nifty.
  • There are some pretty decent scares. I can think of one sequence of events in particular involving a faulty elevator and a staircase. It’s pretty freaky.

The Low Notes:

  • The lead actors are not great. Try as they might, there is just zero chemistry between Wallis and Horton. Plus, the characters are just boring and predictable and not easy to care about. It’s not that I didn’t like them—they just have no personalities. The film relies too much on Mia’s pregnancy and, later, the risk to the couple’s baby to make them sympathetic. But I might also feel this way because of…
  • The writing. At this point, I think most of you who have been around here awhile know how important good dialogue is to me. This dialogue is not good. It’s stiff and unrealistic, so maybe that’s part of the reason the actors struggle to bring life to these characters. Plus, the whole story is…blah. But the worst part is…
  • The ending. UGH this ending. It’s just bad. Rushed, predictable, and a terrible treatment of the most likable and interesting character in the whole movie, Evelyn (Alfre Woodard). Annabelle could’ve been significantly better if the ending had been different.

The Staccato Version: Another bland horror film here. It’s a shame that The Conjuring—the best horror film of last year, in my opinion—had to inspire something that could’ve been so much better. It has some decent scares in it, sure, and that doll is probably one of the scariest things you’ll see all year, but Annabelle simply doesn’t measure up. Too bad, so sad.

My Grade: C

The Sacrament

the sacrament

Synopsis: “A newsteam trails a man as he travels to an undisclosed location to find his missing sister. Upon entering ‘Eden Parish’ and meeting the community’s leader, it becomes apparent to the newcomers that this paradise may not be as it seems.” –www.imdb.com

The High Notes:

  • Gene Jones as Father. He is by far the best—and creepiest—thing about this movie. He’s so confident, so sure of his own righteousness, and he’s surrounded himself with people brainwashed into thinking he is God’s gift to humanity. A thoroughly unsettling, yet weirdly charismatic character.
  • The premise. It’s just really fascinating…in a severely twisted way. Apparently it’s loosely based on the Jonestown Massacre, which, if you haven’t heard of, I urge you to Google with caution. It’s pretty horrific.
  • The atmosphere. On the surface it’s all sunshine and smiling faces, but there’s clearly some unsettling, messed up stuff going on underneath that façade. This is portrayed really well.

The Low Notes:

  • The slow beginning. Until we meet Father, not a lot happens. There are a few tense moments and clearly some strange things going on beneath the too-perfect surface, but not enough to really hook you until Father shows up. And after that we have the opposite problem when…
  • Things escalate really quickly, leading to a pretty dissatisfying ending. Nothing happens, and then all of the sudden a million things are happening at once. The ending, though horrifying, is also somewhat predictable and disappointing. I guess there’s something to be said if they’re clearly inspired by Jonestown, but ultimately the problem is…
  • I just want to know more about Eden Parish. Who are these people really? How the hell did Father convince them to come here? Who is Father, for that matter? How was he able to set all this up? How does he brainwash them? A little bit of mystery is good, but when there are more questions than answers, it’s problematic.

The Staccato Version: The Sacrament kind of makes me think of As Above, So Below in that there are some really cool things going on at its core, but the execution as a whole is something of a letdown. Not a bad film—just not as good as it could’ve and/or should’ve been. If you’re a horror fan and you’re curious about it, that might warrant a rental. Just don’t expect the best thing ever. Also, be warned: it is another found-footage film. I’m okay with that, but I know a lot of people who probably wouldn’t be.

My Grade: C+

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30 thoughts on “Duets: Annabelle and The Sacrament

  1. The guy who played The Father in “The Sacrament” was outstanding. The found footage movies always erk me, though. The inconsistencies ruin it. An example: when the guys first arrive at the Eden Parish they are met by two guys with guns. As the five men talk to each other, the camera cuts from one face to another. But only one guy is supposed to be holding the camera so how can they cut from one face to another without us seeing the camera actually move? They should have just shot the movie in the normal way.
    Cheers!

    • HA! You know that is an excellent point with The Sacrament! I think I might’ve noticed one or two of those moments, too. I think found-footage can be really great in the right hands. Shame that this wasn’t the best example. But yes–Father was pretty awesome. Thanks for stopping by, Jeff! 🙂

  2. Haven’t seen Annabelle – sad that it’s not up the standard set by The Conjuring which, upon second viewing, I really enjoyed – but I completely agree with your three high notes on The Sacrament. Gene Jones is so enigmatically creepy as the Father and the premise is an interesting one with some weight behind it. I actually liked the slow, offbeat build up but the conclusion was totally unsatisfying and generic. Great work Cara!

    Adam.

    • Thanks, Adam! Yes, Annabelle is a disappointment. I think it’s painfully clear that James Wan didn’t have as much to do with it as The Conjuring, which is a shame since I think he could have made it much better…lol. The Sacrament undoubtedly has some good things going for it, but yeah that ending…ugh. Win some, lose some, I guess.

  3. All I want to know is how much better Annabelle might have been if it was given another six or so months to gestate. I bet that movie could have been. . .e-hem. . .conjured up better and made into a stronger horror film that was better written. And they may even have been able to attract a better cast if the script was more solid. So I’m not too disappointed I didn’t see that one. Maybe I’ll rent it. Maybe.

    As for The Sacrement. . . . . . . . . meh. . . . .

    • Oooh. Y’know that’s a good point about Annabelle. Given a little while longer, maybe it could’ve been better…Guess we’ll never know. You might check it out eventually. But, dude, don’t rent it–get it fo free from a library. That’s what I do with iffy stuff. Also: “conjured up.” HA. I see what you did there, you clever thing. 😉

      The Sacrament’s better than Annabelle…but yeah. Kinda meh. :/

      #sadnessblouse

      • 😉 My blouse of sadness. . .. ho-hum.

        If I ever do win Shitfest, I wanna put the trophy in one. That’ll be interesting. haha

        • LOL. Please do. I may have to look into dressing Miguel. I feel like he wouldn’t wear a blouse of sadness though. Maybe assless chaps of rage or something…

  4. Hmmmmm. I’ll wait for Annabelle to be showing in whatever format in my home (lol – it was so much easier when we could just say we’d rent something!). Damn – I was actually going to watch The Sacrament soon. :-/ I did like The Innkeepers…

    • I bet you’ll feel the same about Annabelle. But I dunno–you might like The Sacrament better than I did! I know some people who liked it quite a lot. Giving The Innkeepers a whirl soon! I’m excited!

  5. Great work (as always).

    Can’t say I will be rushing to see Annabelle. I absolutely freaking loved The Conjuring, and when I saw this was coming I could only picture it being like a kick in the teeth, and so far the reviews have not been particularly favourable.

    I liked The Sacrament okay, but it was not the most satisfying thing of all time. I just wanted so much more.

    • Thanks, lady! Definitely don’t rush to see Annabelle. It’s…not great. Lol. Which is a real shame after The Conjuring. I agree with you on The Sacrament. The potential is there, but it leaves you wanting. Shame. :/

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