Annabelle – Movie Review
Anabelle – R
Release Date: Fri 03 Oct 2014
Annabelle is a prequel to The Conjuring focusing on a creepy doll that acts as a conduit for an evil force. Set in the late sixties, the movie presents an origin story for how the doll becomes evil, the significance of the name Annabelle and an epilogue on the real doll kept by The Warrens, the couple whose various battles with evil spirits were more directly adapted in The Conjuring.
Unfortunately Annabelle is an unmitigated failure both as a prequel to The Conjuring or a successful horror movie in its own right. There is a cult that is meant to be analogous with the Manson Family and an act that is considerably more tame than the Tate murder is used to kick off the movie and introduce evil into what begins as a regular doll. A doll that is creepy even in it’s most pristine condition and weirdly, noticeably larger than every other doll in the movie.
The movie then drifts into a boring section where it pretends the audience, who paid to see a movie about a creepy animated doll, don’t know that the doll can move around. Worse, we watch our protagonist Mia (Annabelle Wallis) walk into wide open, brightly lit rooms and not react. The camera then shows us what’s in the room and she reacts when WE see what’s happening, not when she should have seen it as she turned the corner or opened the door.
It doesn’t help that the movie is set in sunny California and most of the scenes take place in broad daylight. With the exception of a dark stormy night and a basement sequence, it’s bright pastel colors of the sixties and blue skies. The movie dresses sets, cars and people in period garb but forget other important details with selling the period. No one in the movie smokes, let alone compulsively. Mia never remotely comes across as an American housewife of the era. She also befriends exactly one other woman, Evelyn (Alfre Woodard) who owns a bookstore. Evelyn is old (according to the movie – she looks about Mia’s age) and also black. Yet none of the racial tension of the era comes across at all.
This feels like a story from the 1990’s or later that got shoehorned into this prequel. There are some really obvious moments of foreshadowing before the ultimate climax robs us of any real impact. Is it scary? Not even close. The best scares and ideas are in the trailer. The rest is dismal.
Aaron and I saw it in the theater and has a discussion afterward in the car: