Hulu and Blumhouse have been delivering thrills, shocks, and horrors in their anthology series Into the Dark which began in October 2018. The anthology series is comprised of an episode for each month of the year – and then some. But these aren’t just short episodes of television, they’re feature-length films that align to different themes of the month in which they air. In December we got a psychological thriller in POOKA and during July we got Culture Shock, which gave a thoughtful look into who gets to be American on the fourth of July. Now, it’s October, the best month for horror fans and we’re all invited to a game of Uncanny Annie.
One of my favorite horror movie plots is gaming. Whether it’s something virtual like Stay Alive or a twisted dinner party like Would You Rather and of course a deadly game of hide-n-seek from Ready or Not, having characters play a game for their life is a sure-fire way to get me to hit play. Uncanny Annie scratches that gaming itch and more as it takes the audience on a trip that consistently left me saying “they won’t do that…will they?”
Directed by Paul Davis, Uncanny Annie takes place on Halloween night when a group of college students comes together to celebrate the holiday after the untimely death of their friend. But the party isn’t all awkward hormones and drinking in the typical college costumes, soon the group finds themselves trapped in a mysterious board game that brings their darkest secrets and fears to life. The rules of the game are simple, complete tasks to receive letters to the name ANNIE, once achieved they win. The catch? If they break the rules, so can Annie.
What starts as simple truth or dare quickly warps into a game with creatures, killers, possession, and of course deep dark festering secrets that ooze to the surface. The trouble starts fast and Annie continually one-ups herself in each execution. The practical effects are wonderful, with monster designs that chill you and kill that make you jump. While there is nothing revolutionary about Uncanny Annie it is most certainly a spooky and gory trip worth taking. The quality of the scares is top-notch, driven by the use of creatures and situations that had me questioning how I would play.
The characters themselves fit into tropes cleanly but their identities as these tropes work to move the story and set up the scares in a way that works well for Uncanny Annie’s story. While this may sound like a critique, it really isn’t. As a genre, horror thrives on its tropes and Uncanny Annie ultimately leans into the character tropes while subverting narrative expectations, breaking established “that can’t happen” rules throughout its runtime.
Sadly, Annie herself could have been executed better. By using an Insidious-esque setting for her world, solid black everything with no understanding if stepping out of the house will land you on solid ground, Annie stands out against the emptiness of the shots, and sadly, her face on the titular board game is scarier than her actual presence in the film. By utilizing quick body twitches, the pale-skinned and grayed-out Annie is meant to be scary, but instead conjures up only a small fraction of the scares compared to the other designs of the film.
That said, Uncanny Annie is the perfect haunt for your holiday. It’s fun, it’s creative, and it’s definitely a film that I will be adding to my list of Halloween horror recommendations for its crafty kills, practical effects, and use of board game rules – and of course, the dismissal of them.
Uncanny Annie is available for streaming exclusively on Hulu.
Into the Dark: Uncanny Annie
Uncanny Annie is the perfect haunt for your holiday. It’s fun, it’s creative, and it’s definitely a film that I will be adding to my list of Halloween horror recommendations for its crafty kills, practical effects, and use of board game rules – and of course, the dismissal of them.