Annabelle (2014) & Finders Keepers (2014) Movie Reviews

Welcome to Day 4 of Creepy Dolls Week here at Cinema Parrot Disco! I’ve already reviewed The Boy, Magic, and the imaginatively-titled Dolls. Now let’s have a look at two creepy doll films that, quite frankly, sucked. But, hey – most of the films in this subgenre are pretty crap anyway. More importantly: Are the dolls creepy or not?? Let’s find out…

Annabelle (2014)

Directed by John R. Leonetti

Starring: Annabelle Wallis, Ward Horton, Alfre Woodard (Oh, the lead actress is named Annabelle. Spooky!)

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A couple begins to experience terrifying supernatural occurrences involving a vintage doll shortly after their home is invaded by satanic cultists.

My Opinion:

Annabelle the doll appeared in a short story at the beginning of the rather good (for a modern horror film) The Conjuring. She is a possessed doll from the real life case files of supernatural investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren (or whatever title they go by). The “true story” of Annabelle the doll, as told pretty accurately in The Conjuring, is quite interesting & unsettling. (Read it & see the real pictures HERE. Although you may be a little less creeped out when you find out that “Annabelle” is, in reality, a Raggedy Ann doll). The completely made up story in the movie Annabelle is a pathetic attempt to cash in on the interest shown in the creepy doll at the beginning of The Conjuring. The true story is far better and I’m confused as to why they didn’t just use that instead of making up a silly (and not at all scary) story.

Well, no – it’s obvious why they made up a new story. The story of Annabelle works best as a short story & the whole thing was already covered in The Conjuring. But Hollywood has to make money. Like a vampire, it has to suck the lifeblood out of every idea it can sink its teeth into.


Look! A pram/buggy like on the cover of Rosemary’s Baby! Don’t be fooled – Annabelle is no Rosemary’s Baby…

I think one of my biggest problems with this film, meant to be set in 1970, was the look of it. Look at the pictures in this post – it looks like a low budget TV movie. It felt like they bought all the movie’s sets from IKEA’s retro ’70s Ödmjuk Smörboll line. Yeah, I totally Googled “IKEA product names” just now & then got sidetracked and read an article about the system IKEA uses to come up with those strange product names and, seriously, the article was a million times more fascinating than this movie. Anyway! The furniture, clothing, hairdos, etc, just looked so fake and the main actress looked more like she should be on the set of Friends with that hair & makeup. What’s most surprising is that The Conjuring got the look of this time period SO right and, if I’ve read this correctly, Annabelle’s director was the cinematographer for The Conjuring?? Hmm. Well, to be fair: I’m guessing that Annabelle had a far smaller budget.

I really like Alfre Woodard so it was nice to see her in this & she was great as always. But I like when we see her in bigger roles as it feels like she’s often on the sidelines and the same happens again here. Also, I can’t believe that the story used her in such an outdated fashion! I realize it’s set in 1970 but the movie was made now. Why are they still using this ridiculous trope? Oh well – at least we got some quality acting (no one did a bad job in that department, really).

I’m sounding way too bitchy. It’s not like I’ve ever made a movie, right?? To be fair, Annabelle was exactly what I expected: a braindead cash-grab that I could zone out to for an hour & a half. Not gonna lie – I’m tired & I don’t always want to think. No one wants to think all the time! Sometimes we just want to stare at a TV screen like zombies while chewing on some flesh (although I prefer popcorn). Therefore, I didn’t have a horrible time watching this. I enjoy movies about possessed dolls & have watched a lot of them even though very few of them could be called “good”. Annabelle probably ranks somewhere right in the middle if you were to compare the movies in this subgenre (I’d need to see quite a few more before I could really rank them, especially as I shockingly haven’t seen the Puppetmaster films).

Meh. Whatever. I’ve seen this now. I won’t remember much of it in a year. Annabelle herself is a pretty creepy looking doll, though, so they did an okay job with her design. Like the movie, she’s probably somewhere right in the middle of a “creepy movie dolls” list. Yes, I’ve made that list! You can see where I’ve placed her tomorrow. Unless, like the real doll, she mysteriously moves. 😉 (Oh crap – I’ll shit myself if that happens… Why did I type that?! SHE’S NUMBER NINE!!!! Remember that!)

My Rating: 5/10

Finders Keepers (2014)

Directed by Alexander Yellen

Starring: Jaime Pressly, Patrick Muldoon, Tobin Bell, Marina Sirtis, Justina Machado, Kylie Rogers, Mary Pat Gleason

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A divorced mother of one is thrown into turmoil when her young daughter becomes obsessed with an evil doll left behind by the previous occupants of their new home.

My Opinion:

I really went off on one there on Annabelle! I didn’t even hate that as much as it probably seemed. Annabelle deserves an Oscar compared to this. Don’t worry – I promise to not be as bitchy this time & I’ll keep this one short. 😉 This is a TV movie & I watched it with very low expectations. I suppose I was more harsh on Annabelle as I do have higher standards for a Hollywood film with a bigger budget.

I watched this for three reasons: 1) I knew I’d be doing Creepy Dolls Week and 2) It was on Netflix and 3) I noticed that the little girl in it (Kylie Rogers) was the girl from the underrated Space Station 76, which is one of my favorite films I’ve watched this year. I loved her character in that movie: sweet, lonely, and heartbreaking. She’s fine in Finders Keepers but it’s such a poorly written character. What a shame. At least she has SS76 in her credits – it’ll be interesting to see if she goes on to do many more films.

If you’ve ever watched another horror movie in your life, you’ll know the whole story already. Newly divorced mom moves into new home with daughter, daughter finds super ugly doll hidden in the floorboards which is naturally possessed because all super ugly dolls are possessed, mother has to investigate the history of the doll in order to save her daughter (using the expert opinion of a friend who falls into the same sort of ridiculous trope as Alfre Woodard’s character in Annabelle).

SPOILERS – I’m going to tell you who dies! Because you already know as everything is so damn obvious & cliché.

Oh look! It’s Marina Sirtis from one of my favorite ever TV shows (Star Trek: TNG) as the new friendly neighbor. She’s so dead! Wow – they got Saw’s Jigsaw himself, Tobin Bell, to play the child psychologist who suspects the girl’s mother of child abuse instead of the crazy psycho doll hurting the girl. Jigsaw: So Dead. Ex-husband’s new girlfriend: DEAD. Mother’s friend, a college professor (I think?) who is an expert on the type of voodoo or whatever the hell was going on with the doll – I wasn’t paying a whole lot of attention because I was bored: So VERY dead! Professor’s assistant: Dead. Um, who else? Oh, that woman with the really recognizable face! Wow – I can’t even remember her character now. Was she a waitress? This movie doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page so I can’t check. Ha! She’s such a “Hey, it’s that gal” actor, though. She was clearly brought in just to: BE DEAD

I think there may have been more but I can’t remember. Guy who sold them the house, maybe? This movie had a high death toll! What about the mother, daughter & ex-husband (who turns out to be nice)? ALIVE! Of course. And living happily ever after. At least, until that cliché “let’s leave this open for a sequel” ending. 

So, yeah – Finders Keepers isn’t a good movie. But it’s a TV movie & I’ve seen worse (I was obsessed with TV movies when I was younger & had spare time to watch loads of shit. So. Much. Wasted. Time.)! At least it had recognizable faces in it (stick to comedy like My Name Is Earl, Jaime Pressly! Loved that show). Is the doll creepy? Fairly. I’d say the doll has a decent design. It doesn’t have a massive head like in the movie’s poster at the top, though. It’s hilarious that it looks as big as the girl in the poster.

My Rating: 3.5/10

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Turbo Kid & Space Station 76 Movie Reviews

I figured I’d review these two movies together as they’re both (spoofs of? homages to?) a couple of very specific genres that I love. And I really enjoyed them both! But neither manages to quite capture the spirit of the films they’re emulating, although I appreciate their effort. Let’s discuss… 🙂

Turbo Kid (2015)

Directed by François Simard, Anouk Whissell & Yoann-Karl Whissell

Starring: Munro Chambers, Laurence Leboeuf, Michael Ironside, Edwin Wright, Aaron Jeffery, Romano Orzari

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film follows the adventures of The Kid, a teenage boy turned superhero in the “Wastelands”, an alternate 1997 Earth where water is scarce. He teams up with a mysterious girl, Apple, to stop the tyrannical leader Zeus.

My Opinion:

An 80’s-style post-apocalyptic film set in an alternate sci-fi 1997?! And starring Michael Ironside, my favorite low-budget Jack Nicholson?!! Holy shit – sign me the hell up! I actually knew nothing about this movie until reading Digital Shortbread Tom’s great review (HERE). So, when it finally appeared on UK Netflix a couple of weeks ago, I watched it immediately. It’s a lot of fun! It’s flawed but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I was hoping to love it but I appreciate the effort they put into the film.

There’s Michael Ironside hamming it up perfectly as the main baddie! And check out this other baddie, who looks like some fucked-up mash-up of Jason Voorhees & a Quiet Riot album cover.

This was out ages ago in America but if you’re in the UK & don’t know anything about it, be warned that it’s mega violent. Funny, very fake violence. Lots of people exploding & blood splattering everywhere. The type of OTT fake gore that I can actually handle – I’m a wuss about realistic violence in movies but it’s played for laughs in this one. In fact, I have to give the writers credit on some extremely inventive kills here, such as one involving a bike & a rather lovely one involving an umbrella. They’re almost up there with the marionette death in A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (but not quite – nothing beats that one).

As every review of this states, this movie is Mad Max on bikes instead of in cars. That alone was enough to sell it to me. Seeing all the images from the film helped as well and I think they did a decent job making things look good on (what appears to be but maybe it’s meant to appear to be??) a very low budget. The gory special effects had the great fake 80’s look they were going for but, more than anything, I just really liked the design of the characters and their crazy mix of 80’s-post-apocalyptic-inspired costumes. And look how cool our two main heroes look! I’d dress like Apple if I was a teenager & into cosplay instead of a boring old woman working in an office. Mainly, I just BADLY want my own gnome stick! 

Speaking of Apple, I was afraid she’d be waaaay too annoying at first but I have to say they managed to turn that around & I ended up liking her by the end. So bear with her if you watch this – she’s meant to be annoying but she ends up rather endearing. And I thought that Munro Chambers, who plays Turbo Kid, was really good! I wonder if this role will get him noticed – it looks like he hasn’t been in much besides TV stuff like Degrassi: The Next Generation. Ha! I remember when they made us watch Degrassi Junior High early on in high school because it dealt with issues such as pregnancy & the teachers didn’t want us to get knocked up, I guess. Or to have to teach a class instead of sticking us in front of a TV…

This will be one of those reviews where I say loads of great things then confuse people by giving it an average rating. I can’t quite put my finger on it but, overall, this film doesn’t quite work. It maybe tries a little bit too hard? Like I said to the hubby, it often feels like current movies like these are being made by people who love 80’s films but are too young to have actually lived through that whole decade (I can’t find info on the directors’ ages). I have to say that Space Station 76 actually got things more “right” in terms of re-creating a mood from a specific era although Turbo Kid is the more entertaining film of the two. I do respect what they’ve done with this movie, though, as it feels like a movie where those making it have really put their heart into the project. I’d certainly be interested in watching anything else this group of people will hopefully make in the future. Turbo Kid 2? I’d definitely check that out if it happened. I mean, don’t a lot of people prefer the second Mad Max film to the first one? Maybe Turbo Kid 2 would be perfect.

My Rating: 7/10

Space Station 76 (2014)

Directed by Jack Plotnick

Starring: Patrick Wilson, Liv Tyler, Matt Bomer, Marisa Coughlan, Kylie Rogers, Kali Rocha, Jerry O’Connell, Keir Dullea

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A 1970s version of the future, where personalities and asteroids collide.

My Opinion:

A dark comedy in the style of a 1970’s sci-fi film?! Plus Keir Dullea, Todd Rundgren, and a hot guy (Matt Bomer)?!? Sign me the hell up! I’m obsessed with 80’s movies & with post-apocalyptic movies just like the makers of Turbo Kid clearly are but nothing beats good ‘ol 70’s sci-fi for me and I absolutely loved the way they captured the look of those films for this. However, I’m going to put this disclaimer in right now: I am not recommending this movie to anyone. Watch it at your own risk & don’t come moaning to me if you hate it. Got it? Because most of you would hate this movie. I almost steered clear when I saw its IMDB score of 4.9/10. Yikes! That’s the kind of rating for the movies Eric watches! But I’m glad I decided to watch it anyway & make my own mind up. Because I really liked it.

I’d say that labelling this a “comedy”, dark or not, was maybe a bit of a mistake as a lot of people were probably expecting something very different. This movie is quite depressing at times, as each character is suffering from a different kind of lonliness and a longing to be loved or, at the very least, accepted. I read that the director thought of the space station in the film as a suburb, which perfectly describes how the movie feels. A groovy 70’s suburb! Far out, man. The closest I can come to describing this movie is to say it’s Dynasty in space. But more Seventies than Eighties… (Hubby disagrees with me & says it’s “Space: 1999, the Richard Linklater edition” but I never saw Space: 1999 so can’t make that comparison)

We don’t know what year this movie is set in (and don’t need to) but it’s meant to look & feel like the 1970s in the same way so many sci-fi films made during that decade still looked totally Seventies because of the clothing & the decor despite being set in the future & in space . What I really liked were all the movie’s subtle little touches & anachronisms. They’re on a fancy space station complete with cool gadgets such as therapy robots yet they use videotapes labelled with those awesome label maker labels. Remember those?! You’re all too young. We had one like the one below. I want one again! I also want a therapy robot…


The characters are also stuck in the past: the men are male chauvinists, especially the male captain (Patrick Wilson) who is a closet homosexual & treats his new female co-captain (Liv Tyler) horribly as he feels threatened by her. The women are self-absorbed & catty and, of course, everyone smokes constantly. But it works well as everyone is a sympathetic character in their own way. Well, except for the mother of the young girl – I wanted to punch that woman… The characters played by Liv Tyler, Matt Bomer, and the young girl playing Bomer’s daughter (Kylie Rogers) make up for the less likeable characters, though. I have to say that I’ve never noticed Bomer before & that I only knew him from that shitty Magic Mike movie but he’s absolutely adorable in this. It helps that he’s the only male character who isn’t a pig (although he does like to listen to Todd Rundgren while fantasizing about a naked Playboy model played by Anna Sophia Berglund. There – I’ve named her so that should get me some pervy Google views. But I won’t post the full frontal nude images from the movie. Sorry, boys!).

This movie is hard to describe & I can understand the low ratings but those will mainly be due to it being watched by the wrong people. I hate when people say “you just don’t understand it” when talking about a movie as I think that sounds snobby as hell but, well… I think that’s the case with this movie. If you don’t love the Seventies and/or sci-fi films from that decade, I really can’t see you appreciating this one at all.

I have to say that, although Turbo Kid is fun and the one that I’d recommend, I actually think Space Station 76 did a better job of portraying a specific era & genre and I actually have more respect for this one. If I’m honest, I preferred it to Turbo Kid. It’s surprisingly sad at times & I found the stories involving Liv Tyler & the young girl especially heartbreaking. I’m not sure I was happy with the way the movie ended as we don’t get much of a resolution. However, I’ve never seen anything quite like this film and I like that. It’s different. They took a gamble with this movie and it certainly won’t work for everyone but I found it very unique and have thought about it a lot since seeing it. I’m glad I ignored the IMDB rating.

My Rating: 7.5/10

**Not gonna lie – I’m old & uncool so I loved the use of all the Todd Rundgren songs Space Station 76. I’m sure it was easy to get the rights with the Liv Tyler connection as he was her step-dad… Anyway, at least Daft Punk agree with me that Rundgren is cool! International Feel is used in this film and, as I said in my review of Daft Punk’s Electroma, they also prominently featured the song so I’m going to share that clip from Electroma (in Space Station 76, it plays while Bomer fantasizes about the naked Playboy model):

And, of course, they use Hello It’s Me – one of Rundgren’s most well-known songs: