Annabelle Film Review

Posted: October 19, 2014 in Movies
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Annabelle is a spinoff from last years hit horror film The Conjuring. It opens with part of the opening scene of the Conjuring, where some young nursing students tell the story of how they got this doll that appears to be haunted by an evil spirit. The Warren’s, from the Conjuring, do not appear in the film, but are backhandedly referenced later.

Cut to a year earlier, around 1970, a young couple John and Mia are about to have their first child. Living in California, they hear about the Manson murders and upcoming trial on TV. It is that their next door neighbors have a young daughter that ran off with a Manson like cult. In the meantime, after a brief argument stemming from the pressures of new parenthood and his career path of becoming a Dr., John presents a new doll he bought for his wife. Mia puts the doll among her collection of other dolls.

That night, the daughter, named Annabelle, returns, murders her parents, and is subsequently murdered after an altercation with John and Mia. The violence is generally disturbing, and Annabelle dies with her blood dripping on Mia’s new doll.

After this, the couple moves out of their house and into an apartment complex. Apparently they haven’t moved too far as they still go to the same church. Their baby is born and is perfectly healthy, but strange incidents begin to occur, involving incidents around the home, and with their neighbors. A local bookshop owner is introduced through which we get exposition into demons and such. This character says she’s had a few experiences of this sort in the past, to which I coughed out loud “cough cough spinoff!” in the theater.

Annabelle starts off decent and has some good chills, but at other times seems unintentionally funny. The doll looks outright creepy from the very beginning and caused the audience to laugh out loud several times in the first act as Mia is overjoyed with her new gift and displays it prominently in her home. It is perhaps the only Exorcism type film to fully show a demon in physical form, and while that was effective it came after an elevator scene in which a horror trope was overused to the point of causing laughter. Following the style of the Conjuring, it has that 1970s horror feel, and evokes imagery reminiscent of Rosemary’s Baby and The Omen. One problem at the end was that the climax was resolved by a supporting character and not by the main characters.

Unlike the Conjuring, Annabelle makes no effort to convince you that this particular tale is true. It does end with revealing how the doll gets to the people in the Conjuring, and the doll is shown in the glass case in the Warren home. At that point we get text about how the doll is kept here and blessed twice a month etc, but this is the first and only try to convince the audience of any authenticity.

Through the very making of this spin-off with it’s backhanded reference to the Warren’s and it’s supporting character’s suggested past, it almost seems that they are attempting a horror based film universe in the style of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I’d be curious to see a horror based R rated film universe, and if it’s done well than great. Unfortunately this film, while having some good parts, is not nearly as effective as it’s progenitor The Conjuring.

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