A spin off to last year’s highly successful and truly terrifying horror film The Conjuring, Annabelle is a demonic toy story that pales in comparison.
An origin story of sorts, it depicts how the doll becomes evil through an incident involving the members of a satanic cult. Just as new parents John and Mia put the horrible experience of a home invasion behind them, Mia begins to see and hear things that point towards a haunting. As is often the case in these films, past trauma is held to blame, but Mia is convinced that the newest member of her doll collection is connected to the supernatural.
There’s one big scare in Annabelle that pretty much made me jump out of my seat, as if I was being flung around by one of the on-screen ghosts myself. There are a number of tense and well conceived set-ups in the film, however everything in between feels remarkably familiar to other recent horror films. One of the main reasons why The Conjuring worked so well was that through its cinematography and 1970’s setting, it evoked the style of an old school horror film. Annabelle has no such stylings; instead a crisp production that fails to create any atmosphere or mood. This is the least of the film’s problems though; its confused story feels like it wasn’t even finished before the rushed production began.
Knowing full well that its central premise of an evil doll is difficult to take seriously, it resorts to the horror film playbook of scares and recycles the same jumps that we’ve seen time and time again. A creepy ghost child here, a demon there, you get the idea; and when it does finally have the guts to show Annabelle in all of her possessed glory, it is indeed more laughable than frightening.
If you decide to go and see Annabelle, then try and make sure you see it with as many people as possible, because the laughter and screams from your fellow audience members will at least enhance the experience. Whilst there are one or two guaranteed scares, on a whole it’s a dull and dreary horror film will ultimately leave you cold and wishing for The Conjuring 2 instead.
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