Annabelle Creation (2017)

A prequel to the prequel to The Conjuring films, the story here is that of how the evil doll Annabelle came to be. Years following a tragic accident, a doll maker and his wife take in a group of orphans needing a new place to live with the nun who watches over them. As they are forbidden to go in a specific room, the young girls get curious and something is awakened.

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The Devil’s Candy (2015)

After buying their dream house in Texas, The Hellmans, a painter, his wife, and their daughter, must face human and supernatural threats.  As the father finds an incredible muse and must paint, his daughter and wife deal with lurking dangers.

Written and directed by Sean Byrne, The Devil’s Candy is a strong follow up to his debut feature The Loved Ones, showing that his talent was not fluke and showing that the man can craft a good horror story with truly creepy and even scary elements.  Here he creates an interesting family who is traditional in one way and not in others; they are a cool, artsy family with a love to heavy metal.  Their differences set them apart from the usual cinematic families who encounter evil in their new homes.  Also, the way the evil comes into their lives is original and works well in the film’s context.  His characters work well together, giving them more to care about, more to worry about, more to lose.  His writing and directing create a film with a family the viewer can identify with and care for.  Also, his human antagonist is one that has presence, who oozes creepiness while playing in the potential supernatural angles.

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Don’t Kill It (2016)

A demon has taken over the town of Chickory Creek, Mississippi.  As things escalate quickly an FBI agent and a demon hunter arrive in town and are forced to cooperate to save the locals.  As the demon jumps from body to body, they must find a way to stop this demon and not become one with it at the same time.

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The Bornless Ones (2017)

No matter what you think of “The Evil Dead,” every indie filmmaker wants to have their own version of the Sam Raimi classic. At this point you could compile a sub-genre out of movies involving cabin in the woods demon movies. There was even an actual remake, foreign wannabes like the charming “Wither,” and yes, even a movie called “Cabin in the Woods.” Director Alexander Babaev really wants us to know that he was inspired by “The Evil Dead” and even works hard to convince us we’re watching a successor–sans the tree rape, of course. “The Evil Dead” still maintains its glossy appeal and inherent terror, while “The Bornless Ones” is merely a fine attempt with some admirable ambition behind it. The cabin in the woods this time preys on the weakness of the characters, exploiting their fears and insecurities, allowing them to possess them.

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The Devil’s Dolls (2016) [Blu-Ray]

It’s a shame that people still think there’s some horror fodder to be mined from worry dolls, because so far I’m not seeing it. “The Devil’s Dolls” plays out like a gory TV movie, or an extended episode of some supernatural series. There are a lot of bland characters trying to stop what is a pretty convoluted and goofy plot device involving a murderer and evil dolls. Director Padraig Reynolds’ film isn’t a complete misfire as it achieves some level of eeriness in some instances. I really do like how our characters look when they’re possessed by evil worry dolls that turn them in to psychopathic maniacs, but that’s lost in a haze of pretty mediocre melodrama and a hazy sub-plot about voodoo.

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Dr. Strange (1978) (DVD)

drstrangeThe 1978 TV movie “Dr. Strange” is one of the many failed pilots for a potential series based on a Marvel comic. This is yet another of the many seventies pilot movies that didn’t just misunderstand the source material, but didn’t have enough of a budget to realize the concept of its characters. Dr. Strange is a man who battles demons and monsters, and uses his will to use magic. “Dr. Strange” looks like a supernatural version of “Quincy M.E,” following a Dr. Stephen Strange as he focuses his efforts on troubled patients in his hospital while accidentally entering in to the magical arts. The movie even goes so far as setting up the entire series with the beautiful Jessica Walter as the series’ primary antagonist, but the storyline is a big hint at a sequel that would never come. It’s probably a good thing since the pilot movie is ninety minutes and we only get to see Dr. Strange in full garb in the final half hour.

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The Cleansing Hour (2016)

thecleansinghourIt’s very rare that short horror films leave me wanting more once the credits have rolled, but “The Cleansing Hour” pulls off a short but eerie tale about possession gone wrong. Damien LeVeck’s short film feels like an episode of “Tales from the Crypt” where the characters get exactly what is coming to them when they dare to dabble in the supernatural as a means of deception. Lance and Drew are two failed filmmakers that have managed to storm the web with their webcast that streams live exorcisms to the public.

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The Witch (2016)

the-witchRobert Eggers’ debut “The Witch” is a marvelous and absolutely mesmerizing film. It’s not just an incredible horror film, but a fantastic examination of how a family basically tears itself from inside out due to ideas of resentment, sexual repression, and pure isolation. Not many directors debut with a bang, but “The Witch” is a slow burn horror film that begins with the fuse burning and burning until Eggers delivers something of a humongous explosion that will leave audiences speechless. Eggers sets his film on 17th Century New England, where a patriarch of a small family named William is threatened with banishment by a puritanical plantation with his wife, daughter Thomasin, younger son Caleb, and fraternal twins Mercy and Jonas. Vowing to free himself of the puritanical village, William builds a secluded farm at the edge of the woods, swearing to thrive with his family at his side.

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