SXSW 2017: We Saw Footage From Stephen King's It and Annabelle 2 - Dread Central
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SXSW 2017: We Saw Footage From Stephen King’s It and Annabelle 2

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Stephen King's It

Yesterday, I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the “Face Your Fear” panel at this year’s SXSW festival, which was hosted by Grae Drake of Rotten Tomatoes fame. The panel gave directors David F. Sandberg (Lights Out) and Andy Muschietti (Mama) the chance to talk about their films Annabelle 2 and It Part 1 – The Losers Club, respectively. They also brought never-before-seen footage with them, which gave us attendees the chance to see amazing scenes that absolutely must be discussed!

So, let’s first talk about the footage from It Part 1 – The Losers Club, as I’m sure that’s the one that the majority of you are most excited about! In advance, I’m going to say that Muschietti said that some parts didn’t have finished VFX but I honestly couldn’t tell because everything looked so damn solid. Anyways, here we go:

The trailer opens with Bill helping Georgie make his paper boat, a chance to see the close relationship the two have. It’s a tender moment, which quickly turns sour as Georgie places the boat in rushing water next to the curb. It’s a visual we’re all familiar with and it plays out almost the same way as the miniseries, only here Georgie hits his head on a street barrier, causing him to fall back and allow the boat to sail on without him, ultimately falling into a drain. As Georgie looks into the blackness with desperate sadness, Pennywise suddenly pops up, giving us the briefest glance of him before cutting to black. Without being able to pause the teaser, there’s no way you’ll get a solid look at the infamous clown.

From there, we meet the individual members of the Losers Club as they all come to the realization that they are afraid of the same dark entity, one that they refer to as “The Clown”. From there, we’re treated to the members flipping through a slide machine in the garage as they try to understand the history of Derry and this evil creature. Just like in the book and miniseries with the photo album that begins flipping through pages at an alarming rate, the slide machine begins moving from one slide to the next, faster and faster. As the children begin crying out in terror to shut it off, the slides show Pennywise’s face, covered by his orange hair. Again, we do not get a good, solid, clear look at Pennywise, just a tantalizing tease.

The teaser then flips through startling and often terrifying images, flashing the words “What Are You Afraid Of?” The famous scene where Bev’s bathroom gets soaked in blood is shown here, only the amount of blood is much, much higher in this version. We also see Pennywise approaching two children, his hand forming a claw and his nails extending like some terrible transformation is occurring. There are also shots of the Neibolt Street house, which looks like it’s straight out of an old Tim Burton movie (I say this as a good thing).

The final sequence in the trailer is Bill facing Georgie’s ghost in a flooded basement, who chants, “We all float down here! Float down here, float down here, float down here!!!” Suddenly, Pennywise appears in the water and charges Bill while moving erratically. The footage is cut heavily, so as to appear like a strobe light effect. The footage cuts and the title screen is revealed.

The audience erupted into cheers and for very good reason. Any doubts that the audience had flew right out the window. This teaser trailer was the perfect exercise in holding back and refusing to show too much. Instead, it gave us delightfully brief teases that made me desperate to see more. Everyone was beyond thrilled and the release date of September 8th really can’t come soon enough. Oh, and we also found out that the news that the sequel was filming is bogus and nothing is happening on that front just yet.

Additionally, we were shown a scene of Bill, Richie, Stan, and Eddie at the mouth of the sewer cistern entrance, discussing the disappearance of Georgie and Bev and arguing over what needed to be done. The scene ended with Ben falling into the river by the four boys, revealing that this is right after Henry Bowers and his goons beat up Ben and are chasing him.

What made this scene special was two things:
1) The kids are clearly very adept at working off one another. There was a chemistry between the four that was wonderful to see and it’s obvious that Muschietti worked very hard to ensure they were believable.
2) If you were worried that this movie would tip toe carefully around what the kids can and can’t say, fear not. Jack Dylan Grazer, who plays Stan, swore up a storm, not hesitating at all to drop multiple “Fucks” in a short span. If these kids can swear, you better believe they can face real peril.

Trust me, folks. As far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing to be worried about here!


Alright, shall we move on to Annabelle 2? Here’s what we saw:

The first scene opened with one of the young girls (99% sure that it was Talitha Bateman, who plays “Janice”), who needs a walker on one arm, go into a room that obviously belonged to another young girl. This is the room of the owner’s daughter, who tragically passed away. Janice goes in because there is a record playing, although no one is in that room. After turning it off, another girl, who is clearly younger, enters and they go back and forth on whether or not they should be in the room. Meanwhile, the Annabelle doll is on the bed in the center of the room. While the girls bicker, the younger one fires a toy gun that she picked up and the ball hits Annabelle, causing her head to turn away from the children. As they continue to discuss the room, they look over and see Annabelle’s face is somehow angled towards them. Creepy stuff, to be certain.

The younger girl leaves the room, leaving Janice to herself. She begins reading a diary that is on a nightstand. Suddenly, the door closes behind her, causing her to spin around. A few feet away, a puppet show box begins showing signs of life. Two puppets come up and begin acting out a performance, although no one else should be in the room. Janice grabs the puppets and pulls them away, revealing no hands. She parts the curtain in the back and no one is in the box. Then, behind her a dollhouse lights up. Going to it, Janice sees a small figurine of a young girl. She picks it up, inspects it, and then sets it down. Behind the figurine, there is movement in the window. Janice lifts her head up and looks over the dollhouse to see the ghost of the homeowners’ daughter, who asks her for a favor. When questioned as to what it is, the ghost turns her back to Janice and taps her finger on the pane of a nearby window. Suddenly, she spins around and, bearing a demonic face, yells, “Your soul!” It’s an overused gag but it still got several jumps and screams from the audience.

Janice screams and hobbles out of the room (remember that arm crutch?) and tries to go through several doors in the outer hallway, each of which slams shut just before she can get to them. So, she then sits down in an electric stairlift chair, which she desperately tries to activate. Meanwhile, the door to the ghost child’s room opens and heavy CGI tendrils of darkness emerge and creep along the wall. Finally, the chair begins to move down, nearly bringing Janice to the bottom of the stairs. However, it stops and then begins coming back up. When it reaches the top of the landing, which Janice so desperately tried to flee from, she is yanked up into the darkness of the ceiling. Several tense moments pass and then we see a shoe fall to the ground of the first floor. A few moments later and the Janice’s body slams to the ground with a heavy THUD next to the shoe. She is alive but very clearly hurt by this event.

So, that was the first scene from Annabelle 2. The overall reaction was very positive but that “Your soul!” moment didn’t sit well with me. It just felt a bit too cliché, a bit too overdone. That being said, everything else looked great! It cannot be denied that there was a great deal of tension during those couple of minutes. Onwards to describing the next clip!

After Janice’s terrible encounter that saw her plummet nearly two dozen feet, she has moved from an arm crutch to needing a rudimentary wheelchair. Stephanie Sigman’s “Sister Charlotte” wheels her outside, promising her that the sunlight will do her some good. Sister Charlotte then hears the ringing of a bell from the house, so she leaves Janice to sit and catch a nice tan. However, someone seemingly evil and malevolent begins pushing Janice towards a nearby barn. Turning, Janice can’t make out the face of this person as the sun is right by her head, making her face impossible to see. However, she clearly doesn’t feel comfortable next to this person and begins screaming.

After passing through the door of the barn, Janice is pushed out of the wheelchair, where she flies several feet forward and slams against some farming implement (this girl just can’t catch a break!). The various bric-a-brac around the farm begins shaking and moving, which leads Janice to crawl under the floorboards of a raised section of the barn. The bright sun from outside penetrates the cracks in the floor and the side of the barn but she is still bathed in shadows.

Frantically looking around, she suddenly sees a figure laying on the ground several feet to the side. It’s the ghost girl, who beings crawling rapidly towards Janice! Catching her, the ghost flips Janice onto her back and, mirroring Fede Alvarez’s Evil Dead, begins vomiting some black substance into Janice’s mouth (we were told this was CGI because, as David F. Sandberg hilariously put it, “Hollywood won’t allow you to waterboard children.). It was here that the clip cut to black.

Once again, the audience seemed to love it and I appreciated this clip far more than the first one, which was still fantastic in many of its own ways. While I can’t say that I’m 100% convinced that Annabelle 2 is going to be a winner, I will say that I’m more optimistic than not.

We’ll have more from this panel soon!

Annabelle

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New Insidious: The Last Key Trailer Speaks Softly But Carries a Big Whistle

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The last word we brought you guys on the fourth installment in the Insidious franchise was when we let you know the new film had snagged a PG-13 rating from the MPAA for “disturbing thematic content, violence and terror, and brief strong language”.

Today we have a new trailer/TV spot for Insidious: The Last Key, and if you aren’t already on board for a fourth round of spooky shite courtesy of screenwriter Leigh Whannel, maybe this quick trailer will do the trick.

You can check out the new trailer below; then let us know how excited you are for Insidious: The Last Key!

I’m digging what I’ve seen from the new film thus far, and this new trailer only strengthens that. Plus I’m excited to see what director Adam Robitel can do with this series after his fucking terrifying previous film The Taking of Deborah Logan.

The film is directed by Adam Robitel from a script by Leigh Whannell and stars Lin Shaye, Angus Sampson, Leigh Whannell, Josh Stewart, Caitlin Gerard, Kirk Acevedo, Javier Botet, Bruce Davison, Spencer Locke, Tessa Ferrer, Ava Kolker, and Marcus Henderson.

Insidious: The Last Key hits theaters January 5, 2018.

Synopsis:

Parapsychologist Elise Rainier and her team travel to Five Keys, N.M., to investigate a man’s claim of a haunting. Terror soon strikes when Rainier realizes that the house he lives in was her family’s old home.

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Luke Genton’s The Bone Box Trailer Proves Not All Graves Are Quiet

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Sometimes a fright flick comes along that sells me on the logline itself. And writer-director Luke Genton’s upcoming supernatural horror movie The Bone Box has just such a premise.

The film follows the story of a grave robber who comes to believe he’s being haunted by those he stole from. And if that premise doesn’t sell you on at least checking out the film’s trailer, I don’t know what to do for you.

Speaking of the trailer, you can check it out below. Then let us know what you think below!

The film stars Gareth Koorzen (The Black That Follows), Michelle Krusiec (The Invitation), and Maria Olsen (Starry Eyes), Jamie Bernadette (I Spit On Your Grave: Deja Vu), David Chokachi (Baywatch), Aaron Schwartz (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2), and Tess Bellomo (Liked).

Look for updates on Facebook HERE and the Director’s Instagram: @lukegenton.

The Bone Box is currently in post-production. It is scheduled to be completed by November 2017 and is seeking distribution.

Synopsis:

Depressed and reeling from the recent death of his wife, Tom (Koorzen) has built up quite a gambling debt. He goes to stay with his wealthy Aunt Florence (Olsen) in hopes that she will write him into her will. When a nasty creditor makes it clear that Tom is out of time, he devises a plan with Elodie (Krusiec), the undertaker’s daughter, to rob the graves of the rich townspeople buried in the cemetery across the road. After plundering the graves, Tom begins hearing and seeing strange things that seem to coincide with the deaths of the people he robbed. Even more disconcerting… he appears to be the only one sensing the occurrences. One question lingers: Is Tom’s conscience playing a trick on him… or is he really being haunted by those he stole from?

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Last Meeple Standing

H.P. Lovecraft’s Kingsport Festival: The Card Game, Overview and Review – Last Meeple Standing

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Yeah, I know. I’ve said it before, and I will scream it to the heavens again: There is an abysmal glut of Lovecraft Mythos games out there (and still streaming into the market). For a while there, it was vampire games (wanna take a sparkly guess why?). Then, it was zombie games (only Robert Kirkman knows why). Now it is Lovecraft games, and it is a LOT of them. Shambling, fish-headed masses of them, weighing down the game shop shelves like heavily laden buckets of freshly shorn tentacles (calm down, hentai fans). It’s true, and a lot of them seem to be sad doppelgangers of other games, just skinned with a rotting coat of Elder God goo.

Photo Credit: Tiffany Hahn

For that reason, it is nice to run across a Lovecraft-themed game that is GOOD. H.P. Lovecraft’s Kingsport Festival: The Card Game is one of those… it’s good, but it’s not great (for ONE painful reason). But, for our nefarious purposes today, that’s good enough. The stars are PARTIALLY in alignment. There is one little detail to get out of the way before we wade into the spawn-infested miasma of this game: it is the hellish offspring of an earlier, more complex game called (you guessed it) H.P. Lovecraft’s Kingsport Festival the board game. Much has been said about the relationship between these two games and many comparisons have been made, but since I neither own the board game nor have I played it, let’s leave it to fester in cold, barren space all by its lonesome for now. I’m sure its time will come…when the stars are right (rolling his eyes).

COMPONENTS:
It is RARE (like fresh Deep One filets) that the components of a game are as nice as the gameplay, but there are two elements of Kingsport Festival: TCG that really make it shine. The first is the titular cards that make up the bulk of the game. The artwork on the tarot-sized cards depicting the various gods, lesser gods, demons, and evil corgis (I kid) from the Mythos is dark and shows off the creatures to good/evil effect. I have to admit that these are some of my favorite depictions of the creatures from Lovecraft’s mind I’ve seen. They really look threatening here. The portraits on the cards presenting the investigators/evil cultists look dignified, a little creepy, and mysterious, as is only right for nogoodniks taking on Cthulhu’s worst. The graphic design is really classy with easily interpreted iconography and border artwork. Equal care has been taken with the backs of the cards, which have appropriately aged and Victorian elements. The only parts to this game are the cards and the dice. Wait, this is a card game, right?

Well, yes and no.

Although cards make up the lion’s share of the game, there is a heavy dice aspect as well, and these are some NICE dice. I’m a SUCKER for custom dice, and Kingsport Festival: TCG comes loaded with them. There are three types of dice: a white d10 with a clock icon on one face, brain-pink (a nice touch) d12 dice representing the player’s sanity with a Sanity icon on one face, and grey Domain d6 dice with three types of domain faces: purple Evil, black Death, and red Destruction. All of the dice are high-quality and engraved, not printed, with easily recognizable faces for ease of play and match up nicely with the icons on the game’s cards. Squee! Wonderfully evil custom dice!

SETUP:
Set up is pretty basic. All of the cards depicting the horrid gods are displayed in order of their power in six rows within reach of all of the players. The total number of copies of each type of god card is dictated by how many people are playing, so the number varies. Each player gets one of the brain-ilicious d12s with which to track their sanity and sets it to 10. All players white timer die, with the high roller taking the role of the starting player. Then each player sets their Sanity die to 10 (yes, the value can be increased up to 12 through game effects. That player takes the white d10 and sets it to the clock face. Players can pick an investigator card, but I suggest dealing them out at random to each player to liven things up (before they get driven insane, of course).

GAMEPLAY:
Gameplay is equally simple, yet strangely engaging. The first player takes the white timer d10, passes it to the next player to their left, who turns it to the number 1, effectively creating a timer that will count up from 1 to 10, ending the game. That player becomes the starting player. Once the white die is passed, the passing player increases their Sanity by one, as will be the mechanic throughout the rest of the game.

At the start of a game, the players will have no cards in their hands. They acquire them throughout the game, but we’ll talk about a general turn. The starting player rolls one of the domain dice and notes the resultant face. If they have cards to play, now is when they would play them. The card effects are varied. They might instruct the player to roll more dice, add specified domains to their pool of domains, change rolled die faces, etc. There are many possibilities. After the player has played all the cards they wish to and resolved the card effects, the player may spend the resources/domains gained through the dice they’ve rolled and the cards they have played to buy ONE god from the displayed cards and add it to their hand. It should be noted that players are limited to one and only one copy of each available god.

Once the player has completed their turn, they check to see if the round indicator on the white d10 matches one of the Raid rounds shown on the investigator card at the very bottom. If the numbers match, the player must compare the Gun icons on his cards to the strength of the raid indicated on his character card. If the Cultist’s strength is greater, he gains the difference in Sanity points. If the Cultist’s strength matches the Raid strength, they neither gain nor lose Sanity. If the Cultist’s strength is less than the Raid strength, they lose the difference in Sanity points. After this, the next player to the left will take their turn.

WINNING:
The game ends at the end of the ninth round, unless a Cultist is able to invoke the Elder God Azathoth, which results in dogs and cats sleeping together (no, not really). The cultists look at all of their god cards and add up the Elder God symbols at the bottom of each card. The Cultist with the most Elder God symbols/points at the end of the game WINS!

FINAL THOUGHTS:
So, there you have it: an epic battle between creepy Cultists and ghoulish Gods in one rather small box. I’ll get to the point. I really like H.P. Lovecraft’s Kingsport Festival: The Card Game. I happen to be fond of little filler games like this. The box lists the playtime for this game as 30 min, but once the players know the rules, you can cut playtime down to 20 min, easy. It lists the age limit at 13+, which I think is absurd. There is nothing in the theme or artwork that would preclude players 10 and up from playing, other than rule complexity. Between the awesome art, the devilish dice, and the rad rules (ugh…), there is not much to dislike about this game… other than the hellish rules. You may be asking what I mean. The rules seem easy. They ARE. It’s the rulebook that is a pain in the neck. For some reason, the graphic designer (I’m looking at you, Savini -no, not Tom-) decided to print all of the rule examples in the book in a nearly unreadable “old-timey” font that is TINY. I think they thought they were adding flavor. If so, that flavor is YUCKY. When learning a new game, you want crystal-clear rules, not something you have to squint and struggle over, like this sad, arcane tome. The same hellish font appears on the cards in places, as well, making me one unhappy game collector. You may look past it, but I had a hard time doing so. Other than that, though, the game is great fun, a nice way to fill in time between bigger games, and beautiful to look at. You make your own judgement.

PRODUCT DETAILS:
Designer: Gianluca Santopietro
Artist: Maichol Quinto and Demis Savini
Publisher: Passport Games/ Giochi Uniti
Published: 2016
Players/Playtime/Age Rating: 3 -5 players/30 min/13+ (seriously?)

RATING:
3/5


Last Meeple Standing is brought to you by Villainous Lair Comics & Games, the ultimate destination for board game fanatics in Southern California. For more information visit the official Villainous Lair Comics & Games website, “Like” the Villainous Lair Facebook page and be sure to follow Villainous Lair on Twitter and Instagram.

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