For a review of “Gone Girl,:
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.