Genre: Supernatural, Horror.
Starring: Annabelle Wallis, Ward Horton, Tony Amendola, Alfre Woodward, Kerry O’Malley, Brian Howe, Eric Ladin, Ivar Brogger, Tree O’Toole, Keira Daniels, Morganna May, Amy Tipton, Michelle Romano, Christopher Shaw.
Year Of Release: 2014
Certificate: 15 (UK)
Runtime: 98 Minutes
Director: John R Leonetti
Synopsis: “A couple begin to experience terrifying supernatural occurrences involving a vintage doll shortly after their home is invaded by satanic cultists.” IMDB
Opening up with the same scene in which “The Conjuring” did, two young women and a young man are telling Ed and Lorraine Warren about their experiences with what they believe to be a haunted doll they call Annabelle. Cut back a year and we are now with John (Horton) and Mia (Wallis) who are expecting their first child, John gives his wife a doll that she has been searching for, for a long time.
As Mia closes in on her dude date, something unbelievably horrific happens, a couple/pair of Satanic cultists break into their home attacking Mia and stabbing her in the stomach, both cultists end up dying in the house. The female cultist named Annabelle Higgins dies with the aforementioned doll in her hands he blood lands on doll starting what will be the worst experience of the young couples lives. A short time passes and Mia is now seeing shadows, shadowy figures, hearing noises resulting in her horrible realisation that something evil is after her new born baby.
Overall, the film was a complete and utter let down, if ANY Horror writers/directors see this read this line carefully;
!!!LOUD NOISES ARE NOT HOW JUMP SCARES WORK!!!
The main problem is James Wan when creating the film that spawned this prequel “The Conjuring” created a beautifully made Horror that felt like it took place in the 70s. Unfortunately, John Leonetti fell on his face in this aspect, he just robbed tropes and elements from 60s & 70s Horror. He fell into the trap that lots of modern Horror directors do, just paying homage to the greats does not add to your film, if anything it takes away from your film leaving the fans with a sense of let down. There is an over use of panning reveals (if you are not familiar is panning through a room an passing a door/window to reveal something in the background) it happens so many times that you feel no suspense watching them.
All “Annabelle” truly offers is the chance to wince four or five times through sheer ear pain, none of the scenes will built any tension for the viewer, they try to build up but fall flat on their face. Unlike “The Conjuring” which builds scene to the point in which you feel the tension, this film is a misguided idea of how to rob a genre by using “jump scares” to bring in a younger/inexperienced audience who know no better due to the massive decline in modern Horror. Most fans of the genre will be sitting there twiddling their thumbs waiting for the film to actually end, and may I add I did not they needed to redesign the look of Annabelle I personally find the doll much creepier, I get why they did it though, the fear of porcelain dolls is a mass fear.
The film itself is really not the only problem, Wallis and Horton are boring throughout, Wallis mumbles most of her lines and you struggle to truly grasp what she is feeling while Horton is the opposite his overly emotion acting feels forced. There is one scene that was done pretty well, which is the only reason the film didn’t get a zero or a one star rating, that is the basement/storage unit scene, I can highly recommend you check that scene out on maybe YouTube or something. Other than that, I highly recommend you get your evil doll Horror fix from “Child’s Play” (1988), “Dead Silence” (2007, which was director by producer of this film James Wan) or “Dolls” (1987).