Letter From The Editor - Issue 69 - June 2019

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At The Picture Show
August 2017

Annabelle: Creation

Annabelle the Doll Takes a Hollywood Meeting

A true story

Annabelle: Creation
Warner Bros.
Director: David F. Sandberg
Screenplay: Gary Dauberman
Starring: Tatiana Bateman, Lulu Wilson, Anthony LaPaglia, Miranda Otto, Stephanie Sigman, Grace Fulton, Tayler Buck, Philippa Coulthard and Samara Lee
Rated R / 1 hour, 49 minutes / 2.35:1
August 11, 2017
(out of four)

First of all, let me just say - on behalf of all of us here at Warner Brothers - how honored we are to have you here, Annabelle. Gotta tell ya - we love your work. Huge fans of all the creepy staring, possessing the souls of the innocent, that cool rocking-chair maneuver you do, all of that. Love it, babe. Love it. The murders, ehhhhh - I mean, the rumored murders, I should say ... actually, you know what, don't say anything. Plausible deniability. Point being, we couldn't be more thrilled to be in the Annabelle business.

Charmed, I'm sure. But look, honey, you didn't bring me in here to blow smoke up my hand-carved porcelain ass. We're all adults here. Oh I may not look it, but I've been hiding in locked rooms and massacring houses full of people since you were in diapers, OK, so let's not waste each other's time. You wanna be in the Annabelle business, yeah? You want the straight dope - how Annabelle came to be Annabelle. Well, it's gonna cost you, mister.

I like the way you do business, Annabelle. No bullshit, right to the point. I can dig it. Look, the truth is, we don't need your permission to make a movie about a creepy doll who kills people. What, you think you're the first? I got dozens-a scripts about creepy dolls who kill people. One-a them, sure, it's very similar to you, but look, we already got this whole Conjuring universe, you're already in there. You're public domain, babe. You're in this room as a courtesy, make no mistake.

We'll see what my lawyers have to say about that.

Hey now, no need to bring lawyers into this, let's keep it friendly, huh? We're all friends here. We all want the same thing. A fun family adventure about a scary doll who kills people. Right? Right. OK then. So, as I'm sure you know, we already made one Annabelle movie already. You're familiar with this?

I never saw the picture, myself. I mean, I am Annabelle, I didn't need to see a gussied-up Hollywood version of myself when I can spend my time terrifying small children in the middle of the night and brainwashing them into murdering their parents with common kitchen utensils. I know how to have a good time, and sitting in a movie theatre for 97 minutes is not my idea of a good time. I mean, they don't even let you smoke anymore; how else am I supposed to silently light a small child on fire, slide down the stairwell from the balcony, sneak out the back without anyone seeing me move a muscle, then lock the doors behind me and placidly smile as the screams of hundreds of people dying of smoke inhalation soar through the air? It can't be done.

Hold on a sec, we've got to get this all down on paper, I mean this is great stuff. These are great ideas. See, this is why you're the best. This is why we brought you in. This is that real Annabelle authenticity we need.

And you didn't "need" my authenticity when you made your last, completely unauthorized movie about me?

Look, we can admit our mistakes. The first Annabelle movie, it was terrible. We know that now. We didn't have the real thing, we didn't have any cool murder ideas, we didn't have you.

Who, may I ask, even played me the last time?

Same guy who pretended to be Crispin Glover in Back to the Future 2. Real pro. He did his best. But it just wasn't good enough. Wasn't real enough. That's why we need you, Annabelle - we need you to play you. Who better to play you than you?

That's the first smart thing you've said yet.

Look, we're really proud of this new Annabelle picture we're working on. Let us just tell you what we have, we can workshop it, you can tell us some of your stories and we can try to make it work.

I'm listening.

Alright, so we start in the 1940s. Got a real All-American family. Couple-a salt of the earth type parents, and they got a daughter named Annabelle. Seven years old. One day they're driving home, they get a flat tire, then boom, outta nowhere, this truck just runs Annabelle over - wham! - just smushes her right up.

Omigod, hilarious.

I know, right? So these parents, they're grieving, they lost their little girl. Then suddenly, wouldn't you know it, the spirit of their daughter comes back. She's like, Mom, Dad, it's me, Annabelle. Your daughter, remember? The one got smushed in the middle of the road? Yeah, that's right, I'm back. But look, Pop, you gotta do something for me. You gotta get one of those dolls you been working on, and you gotta let my spirit into that doll, and you gotta let me live in your house, forever, as a creepy little porcelain doll. You gotta reverse-Pinocchio me, Pop. You gotta do it.

Hold on - let me just make sure I have this right - you made my dad ... a dollmaker? I mean isn't that ... I don't know, a little on the nose?

No no, see, he's not just a dollmaker, he's a tortured artist. He's so broken up about his daughter Annabelle gettin' smushed that he can't even bring himself to make dolls anymore. Everyone in the neighborhood's always asking him how are the new dolls coming, and he's like hey get off my back, I'm retired. No more dolls. But see now that the spirit of his daughter is back, he gets the bright idea to let that spirit into a very special doll - the doll he was going to give to his daughter as a birthday present - her favorite. This is where you come in.

Let me stop you for a second there. It was his seven-year-old daughter's favorite doll? Not to be rude, but ... have you seen me? I'm hideous! I take pride in my physically wretched appearance, it's part of my whole deal. What kind of parent would give his daughter a terrifying doll as a present? Is he like a psychopath or something? I mean ... it's obvious I'm a murder doll, right? I mean it's practically written on my forehead: Hideous Doll Alert. Do not let your kids near me, I will possess and/or kill them.

Look, we get it, but you gotta let this slide. Everyone in these movies is always insisting how pretty of a doll Annabelle is, so we've just gotta roll with it. Suspension of disbelief. So, anyway, spirit of Annabelle goes into the doll. Except guess what? Boom. Not really Annabelle. Actually an evil demon, and now that evil demon has taken possession of a doll. I mean, she goes crazy. Rips half her mother's face off and everything.

Yeah, now that's more like it. That sounds like me.

Right, but the parents, they catch the doll and they lock it up and they put like crosses all over the place to keep it - keep you - under control. Years pass, and you're all locked up just itching to get out and, y'know, start killing people. I mean, you really like doing that kind of stuff.

That's exactly right.

Twelve years later, Mom and Dad decide, what the hell, let's invite an orphanage full of girls to live at our home that has a locked-up demonic porcelain doll in it. It's a good Catholic orphanage that needs a temporary home, and they've got plenty of room.

Wait ... hold on ... I'm having a hard time with this part. So here I am, locked up in a room, I haven't had a good kill in years, and my two yokel parents just willfully invite a house full of helpless little girls into my presence? Do you know how much pent-up aggression I would have if I went 12 whole years without parasitically attaching myself to the psyche of a vulnerable adolescent and forcing her to commit savage acts of unrelenting violence? I go 12 years with no action, I am ready. to. go. What are these idiot parents thinking? Why would they do this?

I'm ignoring your question. Anyway, the main character is a girl in a wheelchair.

The main character? I thought I was the main character. Isn't this a movie about Annabelle the Evil Doll?

Yeah, but

Isn't it my name in the title?

Yeah, but we gotta give you a whole bunch of kids to terrorize, I mean that's only fair, right?

That's a fair point.

So yeah, this girl in a wheelchair, Janice - she's gonna be your favorite. What with her being in a wheelchair and all, she can't go out and play like the other kids. So you've got plenty of time to get into her head, force her to open up the secret locked room, and convince her to let you out once and for all.

And then I immediately kill her because I just can't help myself?

No no no, you just sorta psychologically torture her for a bit. But then there are lots of other things that start happening around the house - creepy things. Like ... I don't know, creepy noises? A creepy scarecrow? Ghosts and shit? All kinds of creepy stuff. The girls are all scared. Like, all the time.

So ... I don't understand. These little Catholic orphans are all terrified of other things around the house? What about me? What about Annabelle? I thought this was a movie about Annabelle! This isn't a scarecrow movie or a ghost movie, this is an evil doll movie, and I'm not hearing much about the evil doll having any fun.

Hey, hey, this is just how movies work, alright? You're still in the movie, you're just mostly sitting in chairs and looking scary, things like that. Because see, then, the devil shows up

Excuse me? You got the devil to be in this movie? With his schedule? With all the work he's doing at Breitbart? My agent didn't tell me I'd be sharing screen time with the devil. How am I supposed to compete with that? I mean, I'm sadistically evil and deeply unpleasant to look at, but I have my limits. This is not what I signed up for.

What, are we gonna say no to the devil when he wants to be in our movie? You want to try telling that guy no? To his face?

Look, I'm going to be honest, I don't really like the direction you're going with this. I thought this was supposed to be a movie about my life of destruction and terror, but to be honest it sounds like you just dusted off an entirely different screenplay and just shoehorned a killer doll into it. Was that supposed to make me happy? Well it doesn't.

I'm sorry you feel that way, but listen, we can do a touch-up on the script if you want, maybe we can work something out that'll make everybody happy.

I'm going to need director approval.

Come again?

Who's the director? Who's running this ship?

Alright ... you seen the movie Lights Out?

You must be joking. That guy? THAT guy?

No, no, he's better this time! I swear. He's learned how to properly block a scene and everything. He had literally never watched a movie before when he directed Lights Out, is the thing. Now he has! We showed him some! I'm telling you, he's gonna put together some terrific funhouse type setpieces, it's gonna be good. Please, trust me. David F. Sandberg is going to legit do a solid job directing this movie.

Alright, I'll tell you what. I agree to do this movie. I'll even let the devil have his big moment or two. But I want top billing - no matter how much Satan protests - and in return I want an extended doll-based movie universe of my own. I mean, I've got tons of stories, you wouldn't believe it.

OK, I like where this is headed. Tell me, you got a line on Chucky? I mean it's about time for a Child's Play reboot and no one's been able to get ahold of him for a while.

You don't want Chucky. He's not who he used to be. Total pacifist now. Found a new calling in life. Hasn't killed since.

Alright, uh ... alright, how about the American Girl dolls? You know any of them?

The American Girl dolls? Yeah, pal - I know the American Girls. Stuck-up bitches, every one. of them All divorced now, by the way. And half of them have been in and out of rehab. Look, they had it coming. They knew the life they were getting into back then. I mean, it's the 1980s and kids don't want creepy murder dolls like me anymore? Suddenly they want nice dolls with accessories and schoolbooks? Dolls who couldn't even telepathically force a beloved family pet to swallow its own tongue, let alone convince a fifth-grader to stab his father in the neck with a ball-point pen or hang a sibling from a chandelier? I mean, where was the imagination with those dolls? Ugh, never get me started on the American Girls. Never possessed anyone, never killed anyone. That's no way to live, if you ask me ... actually, I take that back, Samantha did kill someone, but that was a drunk-driving accident and they've mostly kept it hush-hush. Huge payoff. But hey, you didn't hear that from me.


I just winked, by the way. I mean, it's hard to tell, the way porcelain dolls like myself are designed, but I definitely winked. Can we CGI a wink in the movie, maybe after a particularly amusing death? Yeah? OK good. Anyway, yeah, I'm game for Annabelle: Creation - just give me a movie with the American Girls, let me at 'em, and I'll give you all the cooperation you need. Let's do this.

Read more by Chris Bellamy

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