My name is Talky Tina...
Annabelle is directed by John R. Leonetti and stars Annabelle Wallis, Ward Horton, and Alfre Woodard. It is a prequel to 2013's The Conjuring and is inspired by the story of the Annabelle doll by demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren.
Only one thing becomes abundantly clear after watching the 98 minutes that are John R. Leonetti's Annabelle: the whole thing is a leech. The blood that runs through its veins is blood that is brazenly sucked away from older, better works of horror, with segments of Rosemary's Baby and The Exorcist sticking out like a sore thumb. But it's not just in its internal structure that Annabelle tries to be a leech, it also tried to do so externally by vacuuming your hard-earned money right out of your pockets, thinking it can hit it big solely because of the success of The Conjuring. And, unfortunately, that is just what happened with, by some God-knows-what miracle, a box office gross of over $250 million.
Just because there are a few somewhat effective jump scares, that doesn't mean the movie is scary. In fact, Annabelle is not scary at all. There's no suspense at work here whatsoever, because the story grows increasingly predictable as it unfolds, and we don't give a rat's ass about the characters. Honestly though, what's to be expected from the guy who directed the masterpiece that was Mortal Kombat: Annihilation? The only reason that some of Annabelle's jump scares are effective is due to the sheer fact of how ear-piercingly loud they are. And when it's not trying to make you jump out of your seat, it's trying to creep you out with various close-ups of the doll's face, a rather bizarre directing decision on the part of Leonetti. Close-ups on its face is about as effective as the doll gets during the film and its attempts at being scary.
Taking place in Santa Monica, California in 1967, the young couple John Form (Ward Horton) and Mia Form (Annabelle Wallis) are about to have their first child. John gives Mia a gift in the form of the rare porcelain Annabelle doll, placing it alongside the collection of other dolls that Mia has. Strange things begin to happen to the two, starting with a home invasion of their next door neighbors. Mia and John discover two attackers in the home, a man and a woman. The man is killed by the arriving police, and the woman commits suicide. John and Mia find out that the two were members of some cult. Not long afterwards, paranormal activity begins to take place in Mia and John's home, and it just might all be connected to the Annabelle doll.
- The only way I can possibly recommend Annabelle is if the thrill you get from horror comes purely from the jump scares. If that's the case, then, yes, this movie will be right up your alley. Otherwise, I've got nothing, which saddens me.
- Ironically, the worst Annabelle in Annabelle is not the doll, but Annabelle Wallis. She is completely unable to sell herself as being frightened or terrified, treating the entire movie like a trial and error period in learning how to act scared. And, of course, the movie never bothers to explain to us what she does with her life, making it all the more difficult for us to care for her. Here was my favorite moment of her during the film. I had to play it back just to be absolutely sure: It's early on when she hears strange noises going on during the night in the house next door. Joe makes an ingenious decision and decides to go over to the house himself and check it out. He comes out covered in blood, and Annabelle reacts like he accidentally spilled a drink on himself, no shriek or anything. And on top of that gem, she also likes to walk down dark hallways and ask "Hello?" when she hears a noise, one of the ultimate of all horror cliches. It doesn't help that her husband is a total buffoon as well. Do these characters have to be dumb?
- Annabelle's stealing from other horror movies is pretty painful. Our couple's names are John and Mia, which definitely isn't a coincidence and definitely doesn't bring Mia Farrow and John Cassavettes to mind. Speaking of Rosemary's Baby, the plot of Annabelle is heavily dependent on the sacrificing of a soul to a demon, and eventually John and Mia call a priest to their home. Now what classic horror film does that make you think of?
I'd be lying if I said I wasn't startled at least a little by the jump scares, but those brief jumps are so heavily offset by a story that steals too much from better works and a host of characters that would take an absurd amount of effort to care about that it's basically a moot point. You can only watch Annabelle for a few quick jolts to your system. There's nothing here to inspire and amaze true horror fans, and it's a sad mark on The Conjuring series. Annabelle is nothing but a greedy, annoying leech. Please dispose of it into your trash can if you just so happen to land a copy of it. And unlike John in the movie who just throws the doll into a trash can and leaves, make sure the trash can is set ablaze or thrown into a pool of radioactive waste.
Recommend? No, but if you're a fan of jump scares, you might actually like it.
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