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Re­lease Date: 23 Fe­bru­ary

2014 | 15 | Blu- ray/ DVD Direc­tor: John R Leonetti Cast: Annabelle Wal­lis, Ward Hor­ton, Tony Amen­dola, Al­fre Woodard, Kerry O’Mal­ley

It’s easy to

pour scorn on Annabelle and its pre­de­ces­sor, The Con­jur­ing. Both suf­fer from a dearth of new ideas and bor­row heav­ily from older, bet­ter films. They go for quiet/ loud jump scares too of­ten, rather than build­ing a real sense of dread.

The in­gre­di­ents here are familiar: a happy cou­ple buy a doll that gets pos­sessed by a de­monic en­tity. They move house, but the doll comes af­ter them, caus­ing all man­ner of su­per­nat­u­ral havoc by slam­ming doors, at­tack­ing priests and – re­ally fright­en­ing this – dick­ing about with their record player.

It’s old hat, then. But there’s a charm to Annabelle. The ’ 60s set­ting, com­plete with Manson para­noia, is well evoked. The cast is fine, though Al­fre Woodard prac­ti­cally has “Ask me about my use­ful­ness as a plot de­vice” writ­ten on a name badge. Cru­cially, Annabelle her­self is a fright­ful thing. The omi­nous lin­ger­ing shots of the doll are preg­nant with men­ace. You sit, ner­vously wait­ing for her to move, but the film smartly re­sists the temp­ta­tion of go­ing full Chucky.

Hard­core hor­ror fans may grum­ble about Annabelle’s suc­cess. That’s okay – this isn’t for them. It’s main­stream hor­ror aimed at a teen au­di­ence who just want some good, spooky fun. In that re­gard, it works just fine.

The DVD has a five- minute piece dis­cussing spooky go­ings- on on set. The Blu- ray ( rated) adds short fea­turettes on a mur­der scene, the doll and make- up, plus 20 min­utes of deleted scenes. Will Salmon Annabelle is based on a “real” pos­sessed doll. Linked to one death, it cur­rently re­sides in an oc­cult mu­seum in Con­necti­cut.

Smart quan­tum- the­ory thriller

Re­lease Date: 16 Fe­bru­ary

2013 | 15 | DVD Direc­tor: James Ward Byrkit Cast: Emily Bal­doni, Maury Ster­ling, Ni­cholas Bren­don, El­iz­a­beth Gra­cen, Hugo Arm­strong

With a high­con­cept

idea that could eas­ily con­fuse a good chunk of the au­di­ence, a bud­get that makes Para­nor­mal Ac­tiv­ity look like a block­buster, a shoot that lasted a mere five nights and dia­logue that’s largely im­pro­vised, Co­her­ence should be any­thing but co­her­ent. In­stead, what we have here is an as­ton­ish­ingly grip­ping thriller that barely sets foot out­side of some­body’s lounge and yet still has us gasp­ing at its breadth.

With a cast of ac­tors you might not recog­nise ( bar­ring Buffy’s Ni­cholas Bren­don, whose char­ac­ter is strangely meta – you’ll see what we mean when you watch it), at first the plot seems to be noth­ing more than a rou­tine schlock hor­ror, as a comet pass­ing over­head causes weird things to hap­pen to a group of friends as­sem­bled for a din­ner party. But what weird things they are: com­mon- or- gar­den dis­rupted phone and Wi- Fi sig­nals soon start turn­ing into con­cepts that cover ev­ery­thing from Schrödinger’s cat to Slid­ing Doors, leav­ing you scratch­ing your head try­ing to work ev­ery­thing out – par­tic­u­larly when dou­bles start turn­ing up…

The per­for­mances are per­fect, the char­ac­ters be­liev­able and the plot twists oc­ca­sion­ally chill­ing. Some­how, against all odds, Co­her­ence weaves a com­plex, puz­zling and fas­ci­nat­ing tale of uni­verses col­lid­ing that you won’t for­get in a hurry.

A direc­tor’s com­men­tary, a short Mak­ing Of and cam­era test footage. Jayne Nel­son Ni­cholas Bren­don’s iden­ti­cal twin Kelly Dono­van makes a fleet­ing ap­pear­ance as his other self – just as he did in Buffy.

The wait for the light bulb sup­plier con­tin­ued.

Forgotten by his­tory, there was a sixth Spice Girl…

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