Annabelle (2014)

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3.5 Overall Score
Story: 3/10
Acting: 4/10
Visuals: 4/10

Creepy doll that isn't used effectively

A snoozer

 
Movie Info

Movie Name:  Annabelle

Studio:  New Line Cinema

Genre(s):  Horror

Release Date(s):  October 3, 2014

MPAA Rating:  R

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The doll choice of serial killers

John and Mia Form (Ward Horton and Annabelle Wallis) are expecting their first child, but horror strikes before it can happen.  A man and woman break into their home and almost kill them after killing their neighbors.  Fortunately, police kill the intruders, and John and Mia and their unborn child are saved.  Unfortunately, the spirit of the murdered woman has taken hold of a doll in Mia’s possession.  Annabelle wants a soul and will stop at nothing to get it.

Directed by John R. Leonetti, Annabelle is a horror prequel to The Conjuring from 2013.  The movie was released to mixed to negative reviews but became a blockbuster sleeper hit with a low production cost and massive profits.

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Gee…let’s traumatize my child with this toy!

The Conjuring was one of those movies that you watched, enjoyed, but thought could be better.  Also in The Conjuring, one of the scariest things was the random creepy doll owned (and locked up) by the Ed and Lorraine Warren.  It was a blatant attempt to spin-off the series by making Annabelle to give the doll its origins, but Annabelle had me wishing that the series had followed up on the Warren’s trip to investigate the famed “Amityville Horror” instead.

To begin with, much like the clown in Poltergeist, there would be no way in hell that anyone would want or desire this hideous doll before it is possessed by a demon.  As long as dolls have been made, there are creepy dolls being unintentionally made, but most people look at those dolls and say “that’s creepy as hell”.  Annabelle is one of those dolls, but no one seems to say that…let’s put it in a kid’s room and scar them for life.

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Yep, no way in hell would this thing be in my house to begin with…collector or not

The original “Annabelle” was a Raggedy Ann doll picked up by the Warrens from a nursing student.  The back story didn’t involve Charles Manson-esque killers or anything in that vein.  It was allegedly possessed by a random demon.  This would have been far scarier than the slow, un-scary Annabelle movie that unfolded here.

The movie lost a lot by losing the Warren aspect of the story because both Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson brought a lot of life to The Conjuring.  As far as the haunted side of the movie, Lili Taylor too was much better as the tormented victim than Annabelle Wallis (though I found it amusing that they cast an actor named Annabelle since it isn’t the most common name).  Alfre Woodard was criminally underused in the movie and felt more like a placeholder since the role (beside the child death story) had little meat to it.

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What the hell is that thing and why can’t it be the star of the movie?

Visually, Annabelle also could have scored more scares.  The movie is about a killer doll that is horrific looking.  Couldn’t Annabelle have moved around or at least turned her head on occasion since the writers were making the story up?  The only really jump in the movie came near the convoluted ending in which a demon (which wasn’t really seen clearly before except a few cameos) attacked Woodard’s character and promptly disappeared…could we get that demon back because the doll was a bit of a bust.  It was a lot like the Insidious demon; it looked cool but did do much.

Annabelle should have been scary, and the producers really had to work hard to make it not scary.  The horror was basic and easy to exploit and instead, the movie became flat and cliché and not in a good way.  If the movie had just been loaded with scary doll moments, I still think I would have liked it more even if it was easy scares.  Put Annabelle back on the shelf, she’s not a threat.  A sequel to The Conjuring was released in 2016 called The Conjuring 2, but a prequel to Annabelle was released in 2017 called Annabelle:  Creation.

Related Links:

Annabelle:  Creation (2017)

The Conjuring (2013)

The Conjuring 2 (2016)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by

Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn’t afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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