REVIEW: Aquaman (2018)

Directed by: James Wan
Starring: Jason Mamoa, Amber Heard, Patrick Wilson, Willem Dafoe, Nicole Kidman, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Dolph Lundgren

Written by Rhys Bowen Jones

The DCEU badly needs a win. To say the DCEU has had peaks and troughs is something of an understatement. Despite, for my part, ‘Man of Steel’ being far stronger than the wider consensus says, and ‘Wonder Woman’ being as universally acclaimed as it is, the DCEU is badly trying to course correct after the mixed reception received on ‘Batman v Superman,’ and the genuinely shambolic efforts of ‘Justice League’ and ‘Suicide Squad.’ It needs a film to reunite DC fans everywhere that convinces them the DCEU could be a success. I think ‘Aquaman’ could well be that film.

Game of Thrones’ Jason Momoa stars as Arthur “Aquaman” Curry, a human-Atlantean hybrid with super strength and a swimming ability not too far behind that of Michael Phelps. Living his life as a metahuman living amongst us, Arthur forgoes the secret identity schtick, openly embraces being Aquaman, and spends his time saving people from various nautical disasters. When Orm (Patrick Wilson), Arthur’s half-brother, stakes claim to the throne and threatens an Atlantean takeover of the world, Arthur must return to his true home and claim the throne that is rightfully his.

I’m going to cut to the chase. ‘Aquaman’ is the most fun I’ve had at the cinema in months. I’ve seen some terrific films in the last year, even some genuinely all-time great superhero films like ‘Infinity War’ and ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,’ but nothing compared to ‘Aquaman.’ As the film escalates towards its inevitable, CGI-tastic battle scene, I found myself actively cheering the action on screen. It forced various exclamations that basically said, in umpteen different ways, “this is so cool.” Because that’s what James Wan, the stellar filmmaker behind films like ‘Saw’, ‘The Conjuring,’ and ‘Furious 7,’ managed to do. He made Aquaman cool. He made the guy who has been the joke of DC for years and known as “the one who can speak to fish” cool.

What really works for ‘Aquaman’ is its cast. It boasts a terrific ensemble, and no matter how ridiculous it all is if you really look at it, everyone is all in on their characters, embracing the ridiculousness of it all, and just having a great time with it. There’s a chemistry amongst every major player, from Arthur and Orm, to Arthur and Mera (Amber Heard), to Arthur and Vulko (Willem Dafoe), to Mera and Vulko, and to Orm and Nereus (Dolph Lundgren), that makes the film work. All the different relationships between the characters are, admittedly pretty blatantly, clear and their motivations are presented well so that everyone knows where they stand as the tensions mount into the third act. The ‘will-they-won’t-they’ dynamics, the rivalries, the father-and-son relationships, it’s all well thought-out and executed extremely well, thanks largely to the great cast.

Where the film does have flaws – and believe me, it has its flaws – is largely down to its dialogue. Despite the well-fleshed out relationships I mentioned above, the conversations are about as on-the-nose as it comes. Characters explicitly describe their emotions and plans in every line of dialogue, shoving in corny, superhero focused one-liners to raise an obvious moral question for Arthur to ponder for 20 minutes. It’s blunt, but it’s serviceable; there’s no room for subtext. But then again, this is fucking Aquaman. At one point, sharks are used as surfboards. Subtext left the writer’s room 27-minutes into Day One. And that’s okay.

The average cinema-goer goes to a superhero film for the action. You can claim all you want that people live for the interpersonal drama you find in the MCU, but a superhero film lives and dies by its action sequences. ‘Aquaman’ raises the bar for what a superhero film’s action scenes should look like. They’re the cleanest, best choreographed, and best shot action scenes since probably ‘Mad Max: Fury Road.’ In the first 10 minutes, there’s a very cool fight scene involving Atlanna (Nicole Kidman) in a living room that’s a long-take, one smooth shot in which all 3 enemies are vanquished in expert fashion as the camera swirls around the room. At that moment I knew we were in good hands, but that was just a taster.

There are a lot of nice little action sequences throughout the film, all of which are well done, but there are two stand-outs: Sicily and The Battle of the Trench. Sicily, for starters, includes a glorious long-take following a Atlantean battering ram crashing through 15 apartment walls as it’s the fastest way to Mera who is running along the rooftops, while simultaneously Arthur is being chased by Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), the film’s sadly underused but encouraging secondary villain, with various moments for combat thrown in, an exploding church bell, and Arthur using a literal ball and chain as a weapon. At one point, the camera shows Arthur’s fight and zooms across the rooftops to catch up with Mera, mere minutes before she creatively uses red motherfucking wine as a weapon. Just thinking about this scene again brings a smile to my face. It’s chaos in its most glorious form.

The climactic Battle of the Trench is, thankfully, a worthy capper on a terrifically fun time. I can’t go into too much detail for fear of spoilers, but this scene is the main cause of my exclamations of disbelief I mentioned earlier. Some of the moments on screen are wildly creative, they’re moments that will stick with you for months, because it’s a battle on the same scale as that of Helm’s Deep in ‘Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers’ only this time it involves sharks with freakin’ laser beams attached to their heads, giant crocodiles, giant crabs and lobsters, and there’s even the closest thing to an actual kaiju. It’s not a case of Wan throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks here; everything sticks. The final 30 minutes of ‘Aquaman’ is the best climax to a 2018 film this side of ‘Hereditary.’

Aquaman’ is fantastic. I can forgive the flaws of its screenplay when the action is this satisfying and this impressive. It has charismatic performances, a fantastic soundtrack (‘Aquaman’’s theme is the best superhero theme since ‘Wonder Woman’, for everything the DCEU is doing wrong, it’s nailing the music), and stellar direction and cinematography. It’s one of the most bombastic, energetic, insane films of the year, and it deserves your attention.

Give me more ‘Aquaman.’ I want so much more ‘Aquaman.’

 

RHYS’ VERDICT:

5

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The DCEU Movies Ranked

Written by Nick Staniforth

Braving the waters of the comic book universe once again this week, Warner Bros have supposedly turned back the tide and managed to deliver a superhero story that is getting unanimous praise for embracing its bonkers premise and surfing it to the shore of success. If you haven’t twigged yet, what with all the water puns, I am of course referring to Aquaman, the latest chapter of the DC universe starring Jason Momoa, Willem Dafoe, Patrick Wilson, Dolph Lundgren, Ludi Lin, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Temuera Morrison, Amber Heard, Nicole Kidman and Randall Park.

As of today, the man born of land and sea has made his way into cinemas, but following his release, where does the half-Atlantean sit among  Warner Bros. other highly debated efforts? Here be the rankin’ of the entire DCEU films so far that’ll no doubt cause some waves.


 

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Suicide Squad

It’s almost fitting that James Gunn has been tasked with a sequel to the film Warner Bros were keen to make their own Guardians of the Galaxy. Rough around the edges and filled with its own team of misfits, Suicide Squad had all the potential to be the outside contender that could straighten up the impending array of entries that were in the pipeline – instead, it almost ran the damn thing off the road.

A slung-together script, reshoots aiming to lighten the mood following the near-fatal feedback of Dawn of Justice (more on that later), and one of the shortest performances of The Joker ever caught on film, Suicide Squad was a slog of a viewing experience if it wasn’t for some key players that saved the day.

Margot Robbie and Will Smith as Harley Quinn and Deadshot reignite the chemistry they had in Focus, with the likes of Jay Hernandez’s El Diablo, Karen Fukuhara’s Katana and Jai Courtney as Captain Boomerang conjuring some compelling performances, but the outcome is still a visually murky slog that even with an impending sequel, is an instalment that rarely gets revisited.

 

 

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Justice League

Die-hard DC fans can hashtag the crap out of a campaign to release the Snyder Cut until the Parademons come home, but there’s no denying that the finished product of the Justice League was far from complete. The second that light touches the synthetic upper lip of Henry Cavill, things roll off to an uneven start for the film that should’ve been a team-up for the ages. Instead, we’re treated to a CGI-tastic tone tornado that was another close call for the end of the DCEU.

Snyder’s eyegasmic vision and Whedon’s wit colliding should’ve made for the perfect comic book film, but like Suicide Squad before it, Justice League ends up a drab and forgetful outing. There are glimmers of hope, with Jason Momoa’s Aquaman making his debut, Gal Gadot Gadoing what she’s great at, and that hair-raising moment Superman returns for real, but it’s just not enough.

That chase scene on Themyiscara still holds up but besides that, the rest of the film, for the most part, is a union of DC’s finest stuck together with PVA glue in front of an undeniably bland CGI backdrop. They should’ve entered a league of their own, but instead served as a grave injustice.

 

 

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Aquaman

A well-known horror director and a former horse lord are easily one of Warner Bros. bravest bargaining chips when it came to Aquaman and his solo film. Appearing as an undeniable redirection from the dark and sombre scope the DCEU has been focussed on for some time, Jason Mamoa’s standalone entry as the king beneath the ocean is one of the most refreshing instalments thus far, though not without its own issues.

Demonstrating that same flair he had with high-octane sequences in Fast & Furious 7, director James Wan gets his feet wet again in an at times visually impressive affair and tackles them to a degree, with Nicole Kidman as an ass-kicking Queen Atlanna being a standout moment. Sadly, these aren’t enough to wash over what is a fairly dull story that feels worn down. Plucking plot points from Thor, Black Panther and Wonder Woman, it avoids being a complete wipeout thanks to Momoa who is once again not giving a fork and having an absolute ball, which pushes the film along. Ultimately, it’s a good effort for DC to steady the ship but still not a patch on the best entry so far.

 

 

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Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Tearing friendships apart as much as The Last Jedi, or when Ross and Rachel went on a break, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was the film we never thought we’d see, and ultimately the film fans will never, ever agree on. Considered to be the stuff of dreams and I Am Legend Easter eggs, the sought-after showdown between The Dark Knight and The Man of Steel is a battle on so many levels. For every hit it lands, there’s another counter swing that puts it on the backfoot, which is why its slap bang in the middle of this list.

Forming a bond in the opening act to the previous film amid the rubble and chaos left behind in Man of Steel, Snyder does a great job at building up the motivations for both fighters in this epic bout. Cavill once again slips into the super suit with ease as the still tortured Superman trying to find his place in the world, while Ben Affleck delivers one of the best iterations of Bruce Wayne and Batman ever captured on screen. Fearful of this stranger beyond the stars and being a figure worth dreading himself, it helps a great deal for when these two finally do go toe to toe. It’s the time spent getting to and following from the final fight that is the films biggest issue.

The Martha motive is still frustrating to even recall, as is Jesse Eisenberg’s weedy, tick-induced Lex Luthor. It’s a lengthy lost opportunity that we may never get back but thankfully gave the world Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, the films most undeniable redeeming factor. If your chest doesn’t swell the second she flies in on Hans Zimmer’s score, then you really need to seek medical attention.

 

 

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Man of Steel

Ah yes, back when it all looked so promising. Snyder’s debut venture into the world of DC’s greatest heroes may have had its issues, but Henry Cavill’s first turn as the man with the big red cape is undoubtedly one of the strongest of the bunch.  Retelling the origin story of the most iconic superheroes ever for the modern era is a tough task but even more so when that beloved tale is tweaked to significant levels.

It all works, for the most part, aided by a strong cast that solidifies this world, and provides realism in a way that even Marvel still hasn’t done. From Amy Adams’ sharp Lois Lane to Michael Shannon’s tyrannical iteration of General Zod, every box is checked for the players involved in this effort to get Superman soaring to new heights. Most notably are the parents that mould Clark into the hero he becomes. Russell Crowe and Kevin Costner bring varied but vital fatherly roles as Jor-El and Jonathan Kent, respectively, while Diane Lane as keeps her son grounded as widowed mother MARTHA (sorry, old habit).

There are flecks of kryptonite littered through the film of course, most notably in that films final building breaking scuffle between Cavill’s Superman and Shannon’s Zod. Turning the shining Metropolis into an abandoned car park by the film’s end may well have been Snyder’s plan, but he once again spends too much time on something that should’ve zipped by faster than a speeding bullet. Not a bad first try – if only they’d been this good, though.

 

 

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Wonder Woman

There was only one place for Gal Gadot’s solo gig as the Amazonian princess to go and that’s right at the very front. Putting aside all the convoluted, reconstructed world-building that has been tried and tested, Diana’s first adventure is the closest to perfect Warner Bros. has been. Patty Jenkin’s take on the most well-known female superhero is an absolute treat from beginning to end, distancing itself from all the other entries by decades and finally giving audiences a film they could all agree on as being an absolute belter.

A fish out of water tale with added oomph, braving the era of World War I to bring Diana’s story to life is a refreshing chapter in an uneven series of instalments. Already demonstrating she could wield the headgear and lasso in Dawn of Justice, Gal Gadot gets time to really fit into the role of Wonder Woman and make it her own. Strong, graceful and an undeniable presence of good, she elevates every frame she’s in and makes the walk through No Man’s Land as iconic as Christopher Reeve circling the earth.

Taking the lead behind an equally charismatic Chris Pine who is in awe of his co-star as much as we are, she’s a breath of fresh air in a world that up until then was lost in its own self-manufactured smog. So the familiar final act may suffer some crash, bang and CGI wallop, but it’s redeemed by Diana’s heartwrenching goodbye to Steve Trevor that conjures the more emotion than any of the films that came before it. It’s a wonder we even got this, far but thank the gods we did.

A Hero Is Born In The Final ‘Aquaman’ Trailer

“Following the events of Justice League, Arthur Curry, the reluctant ruler of the underwater kingdom of Atlantis, is caught in a battle between surface dwellers that threaten his oceans and his own people, who are ready to lash out and invade the surface.”

Directed by: James Wan

Cast: Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Patrick Wilson, Nicole Kidman, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Willem Dafoe, Dolph Lundgren, Randall Park

Release Date: December 13th, 2018

JUMPSCARECUT: The Conjuring 2 (2016)

Directed by: James Wan
Cast: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Madison Wolfe, France O’Connor, Lauren Esposito

Written by Tom Sheffield

James Wan’s The Conjuring was a hit with horror fans when it released in 2013 and has since spawned a sequel (with a third film confirmed) as well as two successful spin-offs – Annabelle, of which a third film will release in 2020, and this year’s The Nun, which was based on the demonic Nun, Valak, who we meet in this entry of the Conjuring Universe. The Conjuring films are said to be based on the true case files of Ed and Lorraine Warren – paranormal investigators who were thrown into the public spotlight following their investigation at Amytiville (which the first film as based on).

The Conjuring 2 is based on the Enfield Haunting, which was a case the Warrens took in the late 70s. The Hodgson family being to experience supernatural occurrences in their home and Janet, the second eldest daughter, appears to be the spirit’s first target. The Warren’s are called in to investigate and determine whether there are supernatural forces at work or if it’s simply a hoax. Whilst investigating, Lorraine’s worst fears come true and she must discover the real truth behind the strange occurrence’s at the Hodgson residence.

Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson as Ed and Lorraine Warren are two of my favourite pieces of casting in modern horror. They both have such a fantastic chemistry on-screen and they nail every single scene they’re in – no matter situation they’re thrown in to. Imagine my delight when I heard they’re confirmed to reprise their role in the upcoming third Annabelle film, which will focus on their room full of demonic possessions.

Joseph Bishara’s score never fails to send chills up my spine, especially in Valak’s earlier scenes when she appears to Lorraine. It’s a score that stuck with me for a good few days after I first watched the film, and makes my ears prick up during every re-watch. Don Burgess’ cinematography also elevates this horror by adeptly making the most of space in the small English house. Wan and Buress create a sense of paranoia that has you constantly looking in the darkest corners of every shot and will make leave your lights on.

At the heart of this horror is a message of family unity and strength through times of uncertainty. There’s a scene where Ed sings ‘Can’t Help Falling in Love’ (and gives a corker of an Elvis impression) and, for a moment, you forget the horrors tormenting the family. The Hodgson family are all smiling and laughing and Lorraine looks on dotingly – it’s a scene that you wouldn’t expect to make the biggest impact in a horror film, but, for me, it does.

Whilst the film isn’t as much of a mystery to us as it is the Warrens or anyone outside of the Hodgson family, it delivers some genuine spine-tingling moments and is sure to pique your curiosity of what really went on in that house. I recently began reading The Demonologists – a book based on the cases of The Warrens, including Annabelle the doll, Amytiville, and Enfield.

For me, The Conjuring 2 is the strongest entry  The Conjuring Universe by a fair margin. The cinematography, score, direction, set design, and everything in between all add something a little special to this film and it still manages to give me chills no matter how many times I re-watch it.

 

Tom’s Verdict:

4-5

Brand New 5 Minute ‘Aquaman’ Extended Look Released

“Following the events of Justice League, Arthur Curry, the reluctant ruler of the underwater kingdom of Atlantis, is caught in a battle between surface dwellers that threaten his oceans and his own people, who are ready to lash out and invade the surface.”

Directed by: James Wan

Cast: Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Patrick Wilson, Nicole Kidman, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Willem Dafoe, Dolph Lundgren, Randall Park

Release Date: December 13th, 2018

The Nun

Year: 2018
Directed by: Corin Hardy
Cast: Demián Bichir, Taissa Farmiga, Jonas Bloquet, Bonnie Aarons

Written by Tom Sheffield

Prior to The Nun’s release this week, The Conjuring Universe has made over $1.2 billion globally with it’s four current entries, two of which are spin-offs. Before The Conjuring released there were no plans on the table to build this universe, but due to the popularity of the first film and how much fans wanted to see more of the creepy Annabelle doll, the first spin-off was rushed into production and Annabelle was released a year later. We were introduced to Valak the demon nun in The Conjuring 2 (a character that was added in during reshoots)  and of course New Line Cinema got dollar signs in their eyes and saw potential for another spin-off (which was then teased at the end of Annabelle: Creation). We recently posted up a timeline breakdown and ranking of this horror universe if you wish to delve more in to it.

After a nun is found hanging outside an abbey, Father Burke (Bichir) and Sister Irene (Farmiga) are sent by the Vatican to Romania to investigate further. Unbeknown to them, both were specifically chosen for this investigation due to their previous experiences with spirits . When they arrive in Romania they seek out the man who found the nun’s body, Frenchie (Bloquet), who then agrees takes them to the secluded abbey. It doesn’t take long for before the malevolent force plaguing the abbey makes itself known to Father Burke and Sister Irene and they must find a way to rid the abbey of this evil.

I’ll be the first to admit that I probably had unreasonably high expectations for this film after Valak made such an impression on me in The Conjuring 2. Her presence in that film sent shivers down my spine, most notably the scene in which her shadow walks behind Ed’s painting of her.  Valak’s presence in The Nun somehow didn’t strike the same level of fear/terror in me like her brief appearance in The Conjuring’s sequel did. I can’t quite put my finger on why just yet – but a second viewing sometime in the future may be able to help shed some light on it.

Abel Korzeniowski’s score, along with Hardy’s direction, builds some incredible tension during the first act, however, the jump scares (and their build up) start to feel repetitive pretty quickly, and Hardy’s dizzying direction making the plot far too predictable with the same framing when something is about kick off. The few surprises that The Nun does deliver on are effective and pulled off really well, and when/if you see this film it’ll probably be obvious of one scene in particular I am referring to.

One of the few redeeming qualities of the film is its cinematography, courtesy of Maxime Alexandra, who has previously work on Annabelle: Creation, The Hills Have Eyes, and the upcoming Shazam! film. The dark and grim exterior shots of the abbey and surrounding areas really set the tone for the film, and despite the abbey’s large looking appearance, the interior shots feel incredibly claustrophobic and Alexandra has perfectly used the film’s setting – from the dark, candlelit hallways to the fog ladened graveyard – to convey a consistently dark tone throughout the film.

The Nun may not bring anything groundbreaking to the horror genre or The Conjuring Universe, but it’s definitely worth a watch for fans of either. Demián Bichir & Taissa Farmiga’s strong performances carry the film during its slower scenes, and ramp up the tension when things start to going south for their characters. Whilst the film is pretty predictable for the most part, there are some genuine jumps and surprises scattered throughout the film that got quite the reaction from the audience I was in – which heightened my overall experience of the film because even though I could see what was coming, lots of the audience didn’t and hearing them react was a sufficient replacement for my own lack of a reaction.

With all that said, I think The Nun might have benefited from not being an origin and should have perhaps focused on Valak’s antics just before she begins to haunt the Warrens. There’s clearly plenty of her story to be told – but I wont delve in to why for those who haven’t seen the film. I applaud Wan and Dauberman for how they managed to weave The Nun into The Conjuring Universe, with the film’s opening and closing scenes being pulled straight from earlier entries – and despite this film not being something to shout about, I’m still incredibly excited for future of this horror universe, with Annabelle 3 and The Crooked Man confirmed so far. Personally, I would love a third The Conjuring more than these spin-offs – any excuse for me to see Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga on-screen together again as the Warrens.

Tom’s Verdict:

3

The Conjuring Universe Ranked & Timeline Breakdown

Written by Tom Sheffield

The highly anticipated latest spin-off in The Conjuring Universe, The Nun, is just days away, so we’re taking a look back at the universe’s previous entries, ranking them, and also looking at what the future hold’s for the franchise.

We’ve pieced together the timeline so far, with The Nun set to take take us to the early 1950s. Looking to the future of the universe, it’s probably fair to assume the The Conjuring 3, which was still having its script worked on when we last heard from Wan in August 2017, will take place following the events of the second film. However, earlier this year Wan confirmed that Annabelle 3 was in the works and set to release in 2019 with Gary Dauberman confirmed to return to the director’s chair. The plot details we’ve been given so far would lead us to believe this film takes place directly after The Conjuring 2 and will see Annabelle terrorise the Warren’s young daughter and bring the artefacts in their house to life. Wan said this third film is “basically Night at the Museum with Annabelle”

The Crooked Man, who we met in The Conjuring 2, is set to get his own spin-off. When asked about the film in August last year, Wan said the film was still in the early stages of development and that Mike Van Waes was penning the script. With Annabelle 3 already scheduled for next year, it looks like Wan and co. are in no rush with this film and they’re likely targeting a 2020 release.

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Our team have come together to rank the four entries in The Conjuring Universe so far, the results of which you can find below! As always, the results are determined by combining the team’s individuals rankings and using a point based system to give us our final ranking, so their personal order may differ from the final combined results.

 

(#4) Annabelle

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Well, someone has to be in last place and that just happens to be The Conjuring Universe’s first spin-off, John R. Leonetti’s Annabelle. We first met the Annabelle doll in The Conjuring and it only took 14 months before Annabelle was in cinemas across the globe.

This first spin-off is a prequel to The Conjuring and takes place in 1967. The plot follows Mia and John Form, a young couple expecting their first child. The same night John brings his wife home an old porcelain doll, two members of a cult brutally murder the Form’s next door neighbours, the Higgins, before breaking into their home. The police shoot dead one of the attackers, whilst the other slicers her own throat whilst grasping the doll. After their traumatic experience, the couple move homes and Mia gives birth to a healthy baby girl, Leah. However, after throwing away the doll before their move, she appears in one of their moving boxes and it’s not long before paranormal activities begin to occur. The couple seek the help of Father Perez (who then seeks the help of Ed and Lorraine Warren) to help them exorcise the demon possessing the doll.

(#3) Annabelle: Creation

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Coming in third place is a prequel of a prequel, Annabelle: Creation, which was directed by David F. Sandberg. The film was released in 2017 after the Annabelle doll made a brief cameo in The Conjuring 2, where we learn she’s locked in the Warren’s house.

Annabelle: Creation takes place in 1955 as doll-maker Samuel Mullins and his wife Esther open their empty home to Sister Charlotte and six young girls who have been left homeless after their orphanage is closed. We learn that the Mullins’ daughter, Annabelle, was killed in a car accident 12 years prior to the evens of this film, and the couple have locked her room to and forbade their new lodgers from going in there. Janice, one of the young girls, is crippled by polio and often feels left out when her friends are out playing and running around. One night, Janice finds a note that has ‘find me’ scribbled on it and sees that Annabelle’s room is now somehow unlocked. Janice discovers a porcelain doll locked away in a closet and unbeknown to her, she releases a powerful demon that begins to terrorize the Mullins couple and their guests. Sister Charlotte enlists the helps of Priests to help keep the spirit at bay, but the demon has other ideas…

SPOILERS AHEAD: After Janice becomes possessed by the demon, Sister Charlotte locks both her and the Annabelle doll in the closet where she was discovered at the beginning of the film. However, when police search the house the day after the incident the doll is the only thing in the closet. The possessed Janice managed to escape through a hole in the wall and relocates to Santa Monica to live in an orphanage. We then fast forward 12 years (1967) and Janice, who now goes by Annabelle, is adopted by the Higgins family.

Name ring a bell? It should.

The Higgins family are the couple brutally murdered at the beginning of Annabelle by none other that their adoptive daughter Annabelle and her boyfriend, who have joined a Satanic cult. We witness the murder of the Higgins through the window of their neighbours house, the Forms, and this immediately sets up the events of Annabelle. 

Annabelle: Creation also included a short post-credit scene that teased The Nun.

(#2) The Conjuring

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Coming gracefully is second place is the film that kick-stared this horror universe, James Wan’s The Conjuring, which was released in 2013. The film stars Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson as Lorraine and Ed Warren, characters that are the heart of this horror universe.

In 1971, Roger and Carolyn Perron move into a run-down farmhouse with their five daughters and their dog. Not long after they move in paranormal events begin to occur, including mysterious clapping, one of the children encounters a malevolent spirit, and two of them are attacked by a spirit who is lurching on their wardrobe. Fearing for her families life, Carolyn, fearing for her families life, contacts Ed and Lorraine Warren. The Warrens investigate the house and agree an exorcism needs to be performed, but they need solid proof the house is haunted so they can seek authorisation from the Catholic Church to perform the exorcism. With time running out, the Warrens are in a race against time to help the Perron family.

(#1) The Conjuring 2

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Taking the crown as our favourite entry to The Conjuring Universe is The Conjuring 2, which was released in 2016 and saw James Wan return to direct.

This sequel takes place in 1977 and is set in Enfield, London where a family believe the spirit of the man that used to live in the house is still present. After the whole family witness the paranormal activity, the local church enlists the help of Ed and Lorraine Warren. Lorraine is hesitant to help the family following a vision during a seance in which she followed a demonic nun to the body of her impaled husband. During their time at the Hodgson family home with two other paranormal investigators, evidence emerges that makes it appear as if Janet, one of the children, is playing a practical joke and calling it paranormal activity. Lorraine soon learns that the threat is more serious than she thought and learning who the demonic nun haunting her visions is is the key to helping the Hodgson family.

(It still blows my mind that Valak, the demonic nun, was an additional character added during reshoots of The Conjuring 2.)


 

Whilst you’re here, we highly recommend you checking out The Nursea short film that won a competition held by Warner Bros. when Annabelle: Creation was released. The competition asked entrants to create a short film to introduce a new spirit/demon to The Conjuring Universe that could potentially be given it’s own feature film. We have an exciting interview coming soon with the director of the short film, Julian Terry, who has had some exciting news lately that we can’t wait to talk to him about!

New ‘The Nun’ Featurette Explores The Conjuring Universe Timeline

Whilst we still have yet to see a full trailer for Corin Hardy’s The Nun (despite it’s release being just two weeks away!), a new featurette has been released that explores the film’s place in The Conjuring Universe and how Hardy and Wan approached the film to make it feel fresh but still connected to the films that came before it.

A word of caution, this featurette contains some new footage from The Nun, so if you’re wanting to avoid seeing anything else outside of the teaser we already got I’d recommend giving the below video a miss for now!

“When a young nun at a cloistered abbey in Romania takes her own life, a priest with a haunted past and a novitiate on the threshold of her final vows are sent by the Vatican to investigate. Together they uncover the order’s unholy secret. Risking not only their lives but their faith and their very souls, they confront a malevolent force in the form of the same demonic nun that first terrorized audiences in “The Conjuring 2,” as the abbey becomes a horrific battleground between the living and the damned.”

Directed by: Corin Hardy

Cast:  Taissa FarmigaBonnie AaronsCharlotte Hope, Demián Bichir

Release Date: September 7th, 2018

SDCC: Dive Into Atlantis In The First Trailer For James Wan’s ‘Aquaman’

Following the events of Justice League, Arthur Curry, the reluctant ruler of the underwater kingdom of Atlantis, is caught in a battle between surface dwellers that threaten his oceans and his own people, who are ready to lash out and invade the surface.

Directed by: James Wan

Cast: Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Patrick Wilson, Nicole Kidman, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Willem Dafoe, Dolph Lundgren, Randall Park

Release Date: December 13th, 2018