Interview: David F. Sandberg brings his unique style of filmmaking to 'The Conjuring' franchise
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David F. Sandberg on ‘Annabelle: Creation:’ ‘It really felt like something I could make my own’

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In Annabelle: Creation, it feels as though horror is being hearkened back to its glory days when the genre relied upon tension and suspense as opposed to predictable, cheap jump scares that leaves its audience feeling rather annoyed more than excited while walking out of the theater.

The latest installment in The Conjuring franchise, helmed by Lights Out director David F. Sandberg, who recently signed on to direct Shazam! for New Line and DC, chronicles the events that take place several years after the tragic, unexpected death of the daughter of a doll maker and his wife, who invite a nun and several girls from a shuttered orphanage into their seemingly normal home.

While it may play out in a rather conventional, by the books manner, Sandberg brings his unique style of filmmaking to a sequel that was to be dreaded by those were left disappointed by the first Annabelle movie. The scares are well-crafted, and Sandberg even incorporates a few easter eggs throughout what feels like a wildly fast-paced haunted house ride that only the biggest “ponysmasher” fans will be able to catch.

My conversation with Sandberg picks up a few moments after we chatted about this prank in Brazil, inspired by Annabelle: Creation. Here’s the full interview:

What was your initial reaction when New Line approached you to direct the Annabelle sequel? 

They came to me during the post-production on Lights Out and they were very happy with how the film had turned out. And, you know, I had a very good experience working with them, but when they first asked if I wanted to direct the sequel to Annabelle, I was like, “Well, where are you going to take it? Is it just going to be the same movie again the way a lot of horror sequels are?” But then I was totally surprised to then read Gary Dauberman’s script and see that it was very different from the first movie. So, it really felt like something I could make my own.

It’s a very standalone movie, and you don’t even have to have seen the first one to see this one. You can even see the first one after and it still works. Plus, it’s a real period piece, and we got to build the whole house from scratch, it’s a mostly girl cast, which I thought was really cool, and there was just a lot of things that made me want to do it.

Yup, the kids in this movie were outstanding. Gabriel Bateman’s sister, Talitha Bateman, was especially good. 

Yeah! But she didn’t just get the part. She auditioned several times and really proved how good she was. The casting was so important and we had so many girls that kept coming back. It takes so much work to find the perfect actress for the right role.

One of the best scenes in Annabelle: Creation is when one of the orphan girls is trapped in the barn and the light bulbs start unscrewing themselves from the ceiling. Was that moment inspired by your Attic Panic short at all?

Yes, absolutely. There was actually a different thing that was supposed to happen in the barn during that scene that was, you know, not as exciting. So, when the studio mentioned that they were going to do some additional photography and asked me if there was anything that I wanted to change or improve upon, I brought the idea to them. A lot of people who have seen Attic Panic told me, “Hey, you guys should do a feature film based on Attic Panic,” but I always thought that there was no story there. You just can’t make a feature out of that. So, instead, we decided to incorporate just that part into Annabelle.

It was really cool with the help of Hollywood-level people. In the short, I used CGI for the light bulb and everything, but it didn’t turn out great. This time around, I had an actual practical effects guy who made a remote controlled unscrewing light bulb and stuff like that, which looked really cool and Benjamin Wallfisch did a great recreation of the score I made for the short.

Seriously, the barn scene probably got the best reaction out of the audience at my screening. One of the other scenes that seemed to play really well was the ending—that very final scene. 

You said you haven’t seen the first Annabelle movie, right?

No, I haven’t.

Yeah, that was a worry if people would be too confused by it, but it seems most people sort of are still OK with it. We actually cut into, those very last shots, is actually footage from the first Annabelle movie. So, you could actually just start Annabelle one right there and just have one really big, long movie. I thought that was really cool. But yeah, that was a worry, and we even considered test screening without that ending, as well, which we did. People who knew what that was, like, people who had seen the first Annabelle movie, really loved that ending so much.

I’m sure working on the set of a horror film has to be pretty exciting, but I’m sure it can also be a bit creepy at times with the weird props laying around and what not. Were there any creepy or unexplainable things that ever occurred on the set?

No, I mean, I was too busy directing most of the time, so I probably wouldn’t have even noticed. But, Stephanie Sigman, who plays Sister Charlotte, was a bit freaked out, so she actually asked to have the set of the movie blessed by a priest. She said, “I’m not touching any dolls!”

You recently confirmed that you’ll be directing Shazam! for New Line and DC. Do you think it’s going to be a bit of a challenge making the switch from the horror genre to the comic book genre?

I’m mostly just excited about trying something different, but I’ll definitely be making a return to horror at one point or another. I’m just really excited to try something different.

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Keanu Reeves does a lot of killing, ass-kicking in the latest ‘John Wick 3: Parabellum’ trailer

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John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum
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Lionsgate dropped a new trailer for John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum this morning and, as you probably already guessed, this movie still looks cool as hell and continues to appear to be very much my shit. I will never get tired of this series.

The latest installment in the John Wick Cinematic Universe™ follows Keanu Reeves’ titular hitman as he tries to outrun a group of assassins hot on his tail after killing a member of the shadowy international assassin’s guild known as the High Table.

The thing is, John has a $14 million price tag on his head, so these hit men and women trying to hunt him down are going to stop at nothing until they secure the bag and, quite frankly, I guess I can’t blame them. $14 million is a lot of bread, folks.

Parabellum finds Chad Stahelski, who co-directed the first John Wick along with David Leitch in 2014 before going solo on the second movie, back behind the camera, working from a script written by series creator Derek Kolstad.

In addition to Reeves, this thing features one hell of an all-star cast that also includes the likes of Halle Berry, Mark Dacascos, Ian McShane, Lance Reddick, Laurence Fishburne, Anjelica Huston, Robin Lord Taylor, Asia Kate Dillon, Jason Mantzoukas, John Leguizamo, and Jerome Flynn.

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum will hit theaters on May 17.

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Elizabeth Debicki and Robert Pattinson have joined the cast of Christopher Nolan’s next film

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Elizabeth Debicki and Robert Pattinson
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Just one day after it was revealed that John David Washington had been cast as the lead in Christopher Nolan’s mysterious next film, Variety is back again with some more very exciting casting news regarding this project.

According to the trade, Elizabeth Debicki and Robert Pattinson have also joined the cast of the yet-to-titled film, which is set to be released on July 17, 2020, so mark your calendars accordingly, folks.

While not much is known about the project since it still in the early stages at this point, one insider told Variety that the film is “a massive, innovative action blockbuster” and, like many of Nolan’s previous films, will once again be shown in big, beautiful IMAX.

Debicki absolutely stole the show in Steve McQueen’s star-studded female heist thriller Widows last November and Pattinson has been taking on so many incredibly interesting, complex roles in recent years with films like Safdie brothers’ Good Time and, more recently, Claire Denis’ High Life.

With those two now on board a project that already has the likes of Christopher Nolan and John David Washington involved, I’m already 100% sold on this movie even though I literally no idea what the hell it’s about or what it’s even called. When do tickets go on sale?

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‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ teaser trailer reveals Tarantino’s star-studded ninth film

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Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
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Yes, the first trailer for Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is finally here. Yes, it’s fucking incredible and everything I was hoping it would be. Yes, I take back everything I said about that god-awful poster Sony released a few days ago. No, I will not stop clicking the replay button.

It’s the summer of 1969 in good ol’ Los Angeles, California where Western TV star Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his longtime stunt double Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) are struggling to navigate their way through a Hollywood that they hardly recognize anymore. But Rick has a very famous next-door neighbor: actress Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie).

While we don’t get to see much of Robbie in this trailer, we do get a hell of a lot of DiCaprio and Pitt, who appear to be having a blast in their respective roles, especially the latter, who we see getting a Kung Fu lesson from Bruce Lee (Mike Moh) at one point—that line about manslaughter damn near killed me!

With a cast that also includes the likes of Al Pacino, Damian Lewis, Dakota Fanning, Nicholas Hammond, Luke Perry, Clifton Collins, Keith Jefferson, and Emile Hirsch, it’s tough not to be excited for Tarantino’s latest, which may have just skyrocketed to the top of my most anticipated for the rest of the year list thanks to this trailer.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood will hit theaters on July 26. You can check out the newly released trailer below.

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