directed by John R. Leonetti
produced by James Wan
written by Gary Dauberman
It would be hard in this day and age to get people scared about doll-horror. It’s an often used plot device in horror that makes it difficult to be original with or write something surprising. I think James Wan did a decent job with Dead Silence building creepy suspense. Here he passes the torch to director, John R. Leonetti, with mixed results.
Firstly, this is not a walking, talking doll like Chucky, attacking members of the family with its little plastic hands. Thankfully, there was more to Annabelle than that. The doll is a vessel that a bad spirit hid in, to remain connected to the earthbound world. At opportune moments the spirit ventures out in order to finish a ceremony that will conjure a demon. There are some very good parts to this film. There is a big scene in the middle were the young mom goes into the basement and the demon captures her in the elevator, then chases her through the building. This scene is classic creepy and suspenseful horror.
The main problem with the film is, it’s never able to recapture that few minutes of suspenseful horror as it attempts to build a climactic ending. The newborn baby is threatened by this ill-willed spirit, but it never seems to get me nervous or anxious. The wife doesn’t have a character that makes me root for her. And lastly, (spoiler) I don’t really believe the neighbor would sacrifice her own life for complete strangers.
While Annabelle has a decent origination story and some exceptional scenes, it fails to become an enthralling horror film. The rest of the film is loaded with newfangled clichés that we’ve now seen too often in films like, The Conjuring, Insidious II, The Haunting in Connecticut, and others. Even the subject of an evil cult was handled better in the simple film, House of the Devil.
A decent scene in the middle makes it worth a one time watch for horror fans.
I give it 2.2 scary doll girls out of 5 on the creepy-cult, conjuring scale of sacrificial Satanists