Ok. So. Let me get this out of the way first thing. I don’t think this is a surprise to anyone, but I’m a bit of a snob. There are some things I immediately dismiss out of hand because, well…because everyone else loves them. Or because they feel a bit too mainstream and therefore, dumbed-down. Stuff that feels like it is catering to the lowest common denominator. Like, if you’re a horror fan that gets excited about a new James Wan movie, or a new Conjuring universe installment, I’m not saying you’re not a “real” horror fan, whatever that even means, but I will say that I am probably not going to trust your taste very much.
And I know, we contain multitudes. You could love something dumb like Malignant AND some very cool weird avant-garde old Giallo films AND the most amazing-crazy bizarre, grotesque Junji Ito stories and a whole bunch of other stuff that I deem awesome, but as soon as I hear certain keywords, I’m shutting down and not hearing any more of it.
I do sincerely hope you don’t give a fart what I think is cool! But this is some explanation and excuses for my bad behavior, I guess.
And I know these are not the most attractive qualities; it makes me an elitist, dismissive butthole. I’m not unaware! Anyway! Sometimes I get wild hair to veer off in an unexpected direction and see what “the people” are into. And all of a sudden I wanted to watch an Annabelle movie. And you might be like “uh yeah sure, Sarah, the peasants from FIVE YEARS AGO might have been into this–not only are you snooty and rude, you are desperately behind the times.”
Well, friends, this is how–for the first time in decades– I ended up being too scared to finish watching a horror movie.
An origin story for one of the creepiest dolls in cinematic history–and why wouldn’t I want to watch this story? I am a collector of creepy dolls, I LOVE creepy dolls! Although I will say though that the Annabelle doll is singularly unlovely–it centers on a group of orphans who go to live in a large, isolated home when their orphanage closes. The home is owned by a couple whose only daughter died twelve years earlier; the wife is played by Eowyn/Miranda Otto, and I will confess that this may have factored into my reasoning for wanting to watch this movie. I am always keen to see my LotR companions showing up in other stories. Except for Orlando Bloom. I have never cared less for a character than I did that elf.
We mainly follow Janice, a young girl weakened by polio and who is the first to be preyed upon by the doll and whatever evil forces are at work here in this big, creepy house. This feels especially mean and nasty to me, to target poor, unwell Janice, who is already struggling health-wise and feeling left out from the other girls. Curious and bored, Janice can’t keep herself out of locked rooms, where she wasn’t supposed to be. And this is of course, what opens her up to everything that follows.
I watched about 40 minutes of Annabelle: Creation, spread over the course of two nights. I don’t know what it was exactly that freaked me out so badly, perhaps it was just poor, helpless Janice unable to defend herself from the inevitable. There’s lots of furtive movement in the shadows and jump-scares and just an overall feeling of horrible, intense dread. I turned it off and ended up reading about the rest of the story over at The Conjuring Universe wiki page. I should note that this is how I consumed the entirety of the Saw franchise. Sometimes you just want to know what you’re missing, but you don’t want to subject yourself to the tedium of watching nine whole movies!
I’d like to end this with “so this is how I learned my lesson about looking down my nose at things.” But …you know. No lessons have been learned.
I ended up reading more of a current title from my TBR stack: The Turnout by Megan Abbott. This is not horror, but it really does somehow feel horror-adjacent. It’s an intense story about sisters and secrets and betrayals and tragedies, set against the “hothouse of a family-run ballet studio.” This feels like the kind of book that my friend and poet Sonya Vatomsky might describe as something that came about because the author fell down a rabbit hole of research for personal reasons, but then ended up writing a niche sort of book about it. I mean…there’s definitely A LOT about ballet in this book. More than I ever thought I wanted to know. But in the context of the story, it’s fascinating! I think I am only a few chapters from the end at this point, and it’s an absolutely mesmerizing, terribly irresistible read.
And to keep it very very horror related, as I am typing this, I am wearing my gorgeous Frankenhooker tee shirt, and I am scented with Chris Collins’ Autumn Rhythm. Here is a snippet of my review of this perfume:
“…the scent of a cool, smoky wind that clings to your hair and scarf after a walk in the waning light of a fall afternoon. Though a tussle of leaves has tumbled to the acorn-specked soil, most remain a soft serenade of green and pale, glowing yellow. Autumn Rhythm is a perfume of promise and patience as the trees slowly shed what no longer serves them, the dead and dying detritus of leaves, bark, needles, cones, and twigs, earthy, leathery, woody, and bitter. A strange melancholic verdancy–not crisp, but the tender, mossy dream of it. All of these notes, are captured in a warm woolen halo of cashmere stitches and sweet musky skin. This is autumnal perfection.”
Truly, this perfume is the olfactory version of Ray Bradbury’s “Autumn People”:
“For some, autumn comes early, stays late through life where October follows September and November touches October and then instead of December and Christ’s birth, there is no Bethlehem Star, no rejoicing, but September comes again and old October and so on down the years, with no winter, spring, or revivifying summer. For these beings, fall is the ever normal season, the only weather, there be no choice beyond. Where do they come from? The dust. Where do they go? The grave. Does blood stir their veins? No: the night wind. What ticks in their head? The worm. What speaks from their mouth? The toad. What sees from their eye? The snake. What hears with their ear? The abyss between the stars. They sift the human storm for souls, eat flesh of reason, fill tombs with sinners. They frenzy forth. In gusts they beetle-scurry, creep, thread, filter, motion, make all moons sullen, and surely cloud all clear-run waters. The spider-web hears them, trembles—breaks. Such are the autumn people. Beware of them.”
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