Annabelle: Movie Review
Cast: Annabelle Wallis, Ward Horton, Alfre Woodard, Tony Amendola, A creepy Doll
Director: John R Leonetti
After The Conjuring scared up a major box office success, it was no surprise some kind of follow up would be creeping out of the shadows for us.
But it's into prequel land we go, with the story of how the creepy doll Annabelle ended up in a glass case and being regularly blessed by priests after being handed off to the paranormal investigators The Warrens.
The origins tale focuses on soon-to-be American parents Mia (Wallis) and John (Horton) whose lives are turned upside down when their neighbours are attacked by a Satanic Cult and murdered. The pair are also attacked with one of the would-be-killers shot dead in the soon-to-be nursery clutching a doll given to Mia by her husband.
Shortly afterwards, with Mia recovering from the assault, spooky things begin to happen around the house, forcing the duo to move on. But, despite discarding Annabelle in the dumpster, the pair are spooked when the doll finds its way to their new home...
Annabelle's already been a massive US box office hit, smashing its budget several times over and scaring up totals that some films only aspire to ever reach.
Annabelle is a list of lazy horror movie cliches which seem to have been thrown into the mix, blended up and served to audiences who are looking for cheap jolts, dire jump scares and an overblown soundtrack building ominously to very little at all.
The problem with Annabelle comes down to really how sidelined the actual doll is - confined to merely getting copious amounts of close ups, sitting on chairs and looking more sinister than it actually is. It's hard to see why this is the doll that's scared so many, but it's clearly wasted in this outing.
Both Wallis and Horton are sadly too bland to remotely stand out either, with Wallis' character Mia prone to going into dark rooms during storms and doing the kinds of things that these days feel cliched, unoriginal and stultifyingly dumb.
While the background story of Charles Manson and satanic cults simmers away (left unexploited), the unoriginality on display does little to create an atmosphere of foreboding, with doors being slammed, creaky noises and close ups of Annabelle being over-exploited to try and build something suspenseful and horrifying. But what emerges is a long series of scenes that are drawn out to tediously predictable effect and which fail to remotely psychologically scare.
Perhaps exploring Mia's potential post-natal depression to a greater effect would have worked better (albeit derivative of other horror tropes) - and while Leonetti manages a couple of effective jump-scare moments (in a basement and with a child running towards a door), there's simply not enough to justify the hype.
Quite simply, Annabelle is dull, massively disappointing and a tedious, monotonously formulaic horror that in no way shape or form hits the mark.