Now (that’s what I call) TV: Annabelle and Life Partners

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When I was still signed off work sick I tried out the free trial of Now TV movies and when I bought my TV box, I got a movie’s subscription pack with it as well. However, I’ve not actually watched that many films on the movies pack, so I’m trying to get some value for money out of it before I unsubscribe. The problem is, I’ve seen most of the films that are on there, or I can get them on other services like Netflix or Amazon. I’m trying therefore to watch ones that I haven’t seen or at least don’t have on DVD or any of the other catch-up services. I had a little bit of a mini movie marathon a few days ago in which I watched a horror (Annabelle) and a comedy (Life Partners).

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Annabelle, for the uninitiated, is a spin-off from the successful horror film The Conjuring. Some of the scariest scenes in The Conjuring were in the opening prologue, about a possessed doll, Annabelle, and the havoc she’d wreaked. She was a legendary item in the cabinet of the paranormal inspectors who form the central characters of The Conjuring. As the stories were pretty creepy and the doll suitably terrifying, there would have been potential for this to be an interesting film-not least because it is based on real-life events and real-life spook hunters.

However, the problem is that the Annabelle film has largely a different team on board from The Conjuring, including no reference to the leads from the previous film (either characters or actors). It’s clearly been made on a very tight budget, and the direction and scriptwriting is incredibly poor. I knew it would be-I’d read all the reviews-but I thought there still might be some merit in it.

The problems with this film are many. For one, the soundtrack is like every horror movie soundtrack turned up to 11-to the extent that it isn’t creating atmosphere, it’s just offputting. Even worse, the signposting through the soundtrack that something bad is about to happen very rarely has a payoff-or at least not a payoff substantial enough to justify the heightened strings etc. Indeed, very few shocks and surprises are present in this film. It’s remarkably dull for a horror film, with very little actual suspense or shock. You don’t have to have bad things happening to the characters all the time to make a successful horror, often the sense of dread is enough, but this didn’t deliver either on the shock/gore factor or on the suspense factor.

One of the main problems is that it’s difficult to understand what the doll is about or the story/mythology behind it. The back story doesn’t seem to be that well thought through of what the doll is, why it’s possessed or why it is coming after the family and even after watching it, a lot of that is still quite a muddle.

Another problem comes in that the doll is incredibly sinister looking-but so sinister looking that it is entirely unbelievable that anyone would see it as an object of desire. It is not in the least bit attractive, it’s enormous and it looks like something from a fairground house of horrors. Therefore, not only is it unbelievable that the wife of the family (a seemingly sensible woman) would desire such a hideous item, it is even more unbelievable that, at the end of the film, someone else would be wanting it so much that they’d searched high and low for a doll like it. They would have been much better off creating a doll that looks more interesting/desirable but turned out to be sinister.

In fact, they would have been much better off either not making this film at all, or waiting until the people who made The Conjuring could get on board in terms of direction, script writing and acting and produce something that actually resembled a good quality horror film.

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Life Partners is a buddy-com featuring Gillian Jacobs and Leighton Meester as two best friends: one straight, one gay, who are perennially single. However, their friendship changes when Jacobs’ character begins to date a man and her friend is jealous and lonely-her own love life being incredibly unsuccessful.

There’s nothing remarkable about the plot – and the characters really skate the thin line between likeable and annoying, but the film still has its charms. It’s quite funny, it’s quite touching and it’s a very easy watch-one that you don’t need to fully concentrate on.

Is it a genre bending, earthshattering film? No, not in the slightest. Is it any good as a bit of fluff to help you wind down and switch off? Yes, it will certainly do the job for that. It’s not a film I would be in any hurry to see again, but it was an easy enough watch.

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