WHAT IT'S ABOUT:
She terrified you before, but this is where it all began for Annabelle. Capable of unspeakable evil, the actual doll exists locked up in an occult museum in Connecticut—visited only by a priest, who blesses her twice a month.
Let's begin before the evil was unleashed. John Form has found the perfect gift for his expectant wife, Mia—a beautiful, rare vintage doll in a pure white wedding dress. But, Mia’s delight with Annabelle doesn’t last long. On one horrific night, their home is invaded by members of a satanic cult, who violently attack the couple. Spilled blood and terror are not all they leave behind. The cultists have conjured an entity so malevolent that nothing they did will compare to the sinister conduit to the damned that is now Annabelle.
WHAT WE THOUGHT:
I have a weird love/hate relationship with horror films. I am addicted to them, but I have the nerves of a Teletubby, which results in a lot of horrors being watched through my fingers. If you’re like me, Annabelle will cement any fears you have of porcelain dolls.
As a precursor to the events in The Conjuring, it’s no wonder that they made a superhero-style origin film of the doll that opened the scene to one of the best horrors in a long time. Unlike other horrors, the film starts off with how Annabelle becomes possessed (not that she looked any less terrifying before) and the terror it inflicts upon a couple and their new-born.
Chucky could take some pointers from Annabelle in the art of subtly scaring the living crap out of you without actually doing much. Director John R. Leonetti (who was the Director of Photography on The Conjuring and Insidious) used the cliché build-ups to scares that you expect from horrors, and turns it against you. The worst/best part of Annabelle is the fact that NOTHING HAPPENS. You’re just waiting for The Thing to jump out from behind a door… and then it doesn’t… leaving you and your nerves jumping at everything.
Unfortunately, it isn’t on par with its predecessor The Conjuring. Although he was the producer for Annabelle, James Wan’s subtle touch was missing in the director’s seat. The end was kind of revealed earlier in the film and you didn’t feel as involved with the couple being tormented as you did with the Warrens – who I kept hoping would make an appearance somewhere – and the end left you kind of like ‘meh, don’t care’. There’s so much more they could have done with the twists, but on the other hand originality in Hollywood is not in big supply at the moment.
One mould they did break was that the husband actually believes his wife when she says a demon is trying to take their baby’s soul. In every other film it’s either hormones, stress or the loony bin for the poor sucker. Yay for progress!
The acting was above average compared to other films in the genre, but nothing to write home about. The true star of the show was definitely Annbelle, who barely moved, yet instilled fear just with her presence. The props guy who made her put a lot of effort into crafting her and the slow decline in her looks the longer she is possessed was well done. If I ever find a doll as scary-looking in my house, I’ll kill it with fire.
If it makes you feel any better, the real-life Annabelle doesn’t look nearly as scary – it’s just a Raggedy Ann doll with a cute, smiling face.
Or that might make it even more terrifying. Never mind.
WATCH THE TRAILER HERE: