WARNING, POSITIVELY DO NOT WATCH THIS MOVIE.
Annabelle the Doll’s new movie, Annabelle, is as transparent as the glass case in which she currently resides. Annabelle was first introduced in The Conjuring as a possessed doll who terrorizes two nurses, an actual case investigated by the famous demon hunting couple Ed and Lorraine Warren. With the success of The Conjuring, a spin-off/sequel was inevitable. Annabelle is an origin story depicting all the events leading up to her big appearance in The Conjuring.
The film begins with the same two nurses from The Conjuring describing their experience with Annabell to Ed and Lorraine Warren, the only scene the demon hunters are featured in. The film then jumps back to the life of a married couple in 1970’s suburbia. Mia (Annabelle Wallis) and her husband John (Ward Horton) are expecting a baby, they live a devout Christian life in a quaint Levittown like neighborhood, all is perfect until Annabelle arrives. To celebrate Mia’s pregnancy, John gives her yet another creepy wooden doll, Annabelle, to add to her unhealthy collection of dolls. Later that night, two Manson Family wannabes go on a killing spree around Mia’s neighborhood which ends with both killers being shot to death in Mia’s bedroom and Annabelle getting possessed by Satan. There is pretty much no reason to continue watching this film after this point. The rest of the film is just loaded with unintentionally funny dialogue, tiresome jump scares and cliches, without a good plot to justify them. Annabelle Wallis is decent enough in her role as Mia, the supporting cast is adequate as well but somehow their characters always seem to fall flat, lacking conviction.
Both Annabelle and The Conjuring borrow heavily from other horror movies, the only difference is that The Conjuring actually used its material effectively. Annabelle borrows from movies such as Scream, Paranormal Activity, Rosemary’s Baby, Child’s Play and even Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers. Annabelle throws its plot devices around all helter skelter without giving them any purpose.
What made The Conjuring so enjoyable was its use of a technique called “the anti-jump scare”. The Conjuring was loaded with scenes that seemed like they were building up to a jump scare, but didn’t. An example of this technique is in a scene with Mr. Perron, the patriarch of the Perron Family, investigating a noise he hears late at night. He wakes up in his office after hearing a door slam, he slowly makes his way to the kitchen, only to realize that it was only the wind blowing the door open, nothing harmful. These scenes help to conceal the actual jump scares in the film, making them less predictable. Annabelle uses no such technique and instead favors more traditional jump scares. Mia goes down into a basement to put away a decoration, a baby carriage appears out of nowhere, a scary demon jumps out at her, this is pretty much how all scare scenes are carried out.
With so much material to work with Annabelle butchers every opportunity it has to be a creative film. The 1970’s setting already provides a lot of historical content to work with but Annabelle fails to take advantage of the nostalgia, it only skims the surface of its potential. This is the era of The Brady Bunch, 8-tracks, Bell Bottoms, ABBA and Richard Nixon, how could the directors ignore these horrors? Maybe because James Wan wasn’t directing the film. Once again Annabelle chucks in a few 1970’s nods but not with purpose. A few 70’s outfits here, a few songs there, throw in a reference to Charles Manson and boom, there is still nothing to distinguish this film from any other. Annabelle lacks the believability and imagination required to tell a good ghost story.
Although this film is not based on a true story like The Conjuring was, the writers of the Annabelle should have still consulted with Lorraine Warren, like James Wan did, to get more information about demons and the occult. The fun of The Conjuring was knowing that it was based on something real. There is very little connection to The Conjuring in this film, Annabelle forgets its roots. The demons shown in Annabelle look exactly like Lipstick-Face from Insidious, it may as
However bad the movie may be Annabelle proves superior to The Conjuring in only one category: Cinematography. James Kniest skillfully establishes the perfect scene composition in all his shots. He uses the space effectively, placing certain portions of background out of focus, this helps to displace the viewers attention away from where the actual jump scares are going to occur. The only enjoyable aspect of the film is a really nice touch added by Kniest, the inclusion of a Raggedy Ann doll in the final scene of the film, a wise nod to the real life Annabelle doll who is a Raggedy Ann doll.
Even good camera shots are not enough to save Annabelle from the bowels of Hell. Annabelle is a victim of plot holes, cliches, unintentional humor, flat acting and horrible animation. Annabelle should stay on the shelf where she belongs.
The Final Verdict: If you have to watch Annabelle, wait until you find her in the $3.99 discount bin at Walmart.