For a re­view of “Gone Girl,:

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Twisty and twisted, “Gone Girl” is the anti-date movie. Cou­ples at­tend­ing it will likely spend the rest of their evening in un­easy con­sid­er­a­tion of each other, won­der­ing what ex­actly each is like, and where the sharp edges are in their re­la­tion­ship.

Adapted by Gil­lian Flynn from her novel of the same name, and di­rected by David Fincher (“Seven,” “The Girl With the Dragon Tat­too”), “Gone Girl” is set in mo­tion when bar owner Nick Dunne (Ben Af­fleck) dis­cov­ers that his wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike), is miss­ing un­der sus­pi­cious and seem­ingly vi­o­lent cir­cum­stances. Blonde, pretty and white, Amy is just the kind of woman whose dis­ap­pear­ance will prompt me­dia en­thu­si­asm. Even more en­tic­ing for the new­shounds, she is at once fa­mous and iconic — the in­spi­ra­tion for a se­ries of chil­dren’s books her par­ents wrote.

So the case is not only be­ing in­ves­ti­gated by a dogged de­tec­tive (Kim Dick­ens), it is nightly fod­der for a Nancy Grace-like TV host (Missi Pyle). And the longer the in­ves­ti­ga­tions go, and the deeper peo­ple dig, the more it seems that the Dunnes’ mar­riage was less than ideal —and that Nick may have had some­thing to do with Amy’s ab­sence.

That is about as far as I want to go in de­tail­ing the plot, which goes on to a cou­ple of sur­prises (at least for peo­ple who have not read the book) and a blast of graphic vi­o­lence. What you should know, though, is that Fincher and Flynn have cre­ated a ten­sion-laden tale, made all the more in­tense be­cause so many peo­ple have things to hide, and so many emo­tions are be­ing kept in check.

In­deed, as much as “Gone Girl” is a thriller, it is also a dark com­edy about mar­riage — about what peo­ple are will- ing to do to make their loved ones happy, about the fail­ure to achieve that, and what hap­pens when the fail­ure be­comes un­bear­able. Af­fleck is es­pe­cially well cast be­cause he brings the au­di­ence’s good will to­ward him into Nick — yet is also con­vinc­ing as peo­ple be­gin to won­der if Nick re­ally is what he ap­pears to be.

Car­rie Coon serves as an able stand-in for the au­di­ence while play­ing Nick’s sis­ter, Margo, ( nick­named Go). Whether she is cling­ing to faith in her brother or strug­gling to deal with sud­den rev­e­la­tions, Go gives the au­di­ence even more rea­son to worry about Nick and the Dunnes’ mar­riage.

But t he movie re­ally be­longs to Pike. Of­ten seen in flash­backs to scenes in her di­ary, she has to nav­i­gate some of the trick­i­est dra­matic turns in the story, and is riv­et­ing when she does it. More than once, she makes mo­ments work with slight shifts in ex­pres­sion, chang­ing the light in her eyes to in­cred­i­ble dra­matic ef­fect.

All of this adds up to a gen­er­ally sus­pense­ful movie. It is a bit slow in the early go­ing, but at 2½ hours, still can­not jam in all the mo­ments from the book; fans of the novel will note that some mi­nor char­ac­ters have been dropped, and events com­pressed.

But those read­ers should have the same un­easy feel­ing at the end that Flynn’s book gave, pos­si­bly even more. At times the book had to re­veal things through narration and di­a­logue, which are con­veyed in the film more crisply — some­times in just a look.

“Gone Girl, a 20th Cen­tury Fox re­lease, is rated R, for vulgar lan­guage, sex­ual sit­u­a­tions, a scene of bloody gore, adult themes. Run­ning time: 145 min­utes.


A child’s crayon rolls across a floor. Cur­tains fly back from a win­dow you thought was closed. A TV-dis­tracted seam­stress looks at her late model sewing ma­chine less and less as the cam­era zooms closer and closer to that naked nee­dle whirring at her fin­ger­tips.

And the most alarm­ing look­ing child’s doll this side of “Chucky” stares, with dead eyes, out of the cor­ner of the frame as a puz­zled, haunted young mother steps through a door in the back­ground.

Some­times, the best ef­fects are the cheap­est.

“Annabelle” is another tale of a doll pos­sessed, a hor­ror movie of such hoary con­ven­tions that we meet the “know­ing priest” (Tony Amen­dola) in the first scene and we’re in­tro­duced to the help­ful, oc­cult- cu­ri­ous book­store owner (Al­fre Woodard) be­fore the first act is through.

There’s noth­ing sur­pris­ing about this late ’60s tale, in­clud­ing its con­nec­tion to the mod­ern ghost sto­ries told in “The Amityville Hor­ror” and “The Con­jur­ing.” But what it lacks in orig­i­nal­ity it makes up with in hair-rais­ing ex­e­cu­tion. You will scream like a teenage girl.

Mia ( Annabelle Wal­lis) and John ( Ward Hor­ton) may be the bland­est Catholics late-’60s Cal­i­for­nia has to of­fer. She’s a preg­nant house- wife, wait­ing on their first baby. He’s a young doc­tor and man of sci­ence.

A Man­son Fam­ily- like slaugh­ter hits the cou­ple liv­ing next door and spills into their lives. That’s where the mur­der­ous cultist Annabelle got her hands on one of Mia’s an­tique dolls be­fore she died. And that’s when stranger things than a Satanic mur­der cult at­tack start to hap­pen.

Fa­ther Perez (Amen­dola) has a the­ory that feeds Mia’s grow­ing sus­pi­cions about a doll so grotesque it could only ex­ist in a hor­ror movie.

“Evil is con­stant. You can­not de­stroy what was never cre­ated.”

And Eve­lyn (Woodard), an earthy widow who lost her child years be­fore, is laugh- ably mat­ter-of-fact about the vin­tage books she sells.

“I think my fam­ily’s be­ing haunted by a ghost.”

“Annabelle” de­liv­ers noth­ing new, de­liv­ers a mild sur­prise in the clos­ing cred­its, which sharp-eyed “Con­jur­ing” fans will have al­ready picked up on. The per­for­mances don’t en­sure em­pa­thy, although the young mom na­ture of the hero­ine does.

But like “In­sid­i­ous” and “The Con­jur­ing,” the only goal here is to raise the hairs on the back of your neck. And” Annabelle” does.

“Annabelle,” a New Line/ Warner Brothers re­lease, is rated R for in­tense se­quences of disturbing vi­o­lence and ter­ror. Run­ning time: 98 min­utes.

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