Six friends gather together to pay homage to the life of their friend Tony (Avery Bagenstos) who died after drowning in a shallow puddle. The group – led by Michael (Dylan Arnold) and Wendy (Adelaide Kane) – decide to honour Tony by playing a board game, something he loved to do, and they pick one they haven’t played before called Uncanny Annie. The strange game draws them in and they soon realise they are trapped inside the game and playing for much more than just simply winning… they are playing for their lives.
Uncanny Annie is an episode of the Blumhouse Television series Into the Dark and it aired in the US earlier this month. Directed by British film-maker Paul Davis, the film is a horror take on Jumanji essentially, where the stakes are higher and the scares come thick and fast. The film takes a little time to establish the central characters and hint that there’s secrets and lies to uncover, which do get revealed over the course of the film, but once they start playing the game, the film gets pretty creative.
Each round a different member of the group has to select a playing card and do whatever it says on there. If they don’t they have to pick a mischief card and if they fail, their life is in serious danger. At first the group doesn’t take it seriously until they step outside of the house and realise they are indeed trapped in the game. To really reinforce that point, one of the group succumbs to a grisly death, scaring the other members of the group to take it seriously.
Davis really does manage to deliver the tension and the visual effects are creepy as hell. Seeing Death walking around the halls of the house at one point is spine-tingling and there are some really inventive tasks that the group has to complete. For me, it was The Prankster who is the scariest creation and he pops up on a couple of occasion to scare the crap out of the group, and the audience.
The talented cast is definitely one of Uncanny Annie’s selling points. Dylan Arnold is perhaps the most recognisable having starred in the hit TV series Nashville and more recently in the Halloween 2018 movie. Potentially typecast as the douche boyfriend, Arnold has a great screen presence and his performance here is confident and polished. Of the female cast members, Paige McGhee is the strongest as the fierce Grace who takes charge even though she’s an outsider to most of the group. Her performance is really impressive, especially when her character comes face-to-face with The Prankster.
Uncanny Annie isn’t the best horror you’re ever going to see but its frivolous fun that certainly passes 80 minutes in a pleasing way. Packed with some decent scares and solid performances, the film is perfect for a night in with the lights off and Davis’ direction definitely elevates it above the average horror it could so easily have been.
Cast: Georgie Flores, Adelaide Kane, Paige McGhee, Jacques Colimon, Dylan Arnold, Evan Bittencourt Director: Paul Davis Writers: Alan Blake Bachelor, James Bachelor Certificate: TBC Duration: 80 mins Released by: Hulu