Director: John R. Leonetti
Starring: Annabelle Wallis, Ward Horton, Tony Amedola, Alfre Woodard
Creepy dolls have been used in horror films for a while. Chucky in Child’s Play, Jigsaw in Saw, The Clown Doll in Poltergeist … the list is endless. It’s easy to see why they have been so popular; their blank painted faces are really spooky. We previously saw the Annabelle doll in James Wan’s The Conjuring, and now she’s back in her own chilling picture, Annabelle.
Annabelle follows the origin story of the titular doll, which becomes possessed shortly after Mia (Annabelle Wallis) and John Gordon’s (Ward Horton) home is invaded by members of a Charles Manson-esque satanic cult. They start to experience alarming ghostly phenomena involving the vintage doll and even a horned individual, not unlike the devil himself, at one point.
Unfortunately Annabelle belongs to that modern breed of horror film; the ‘quiet, quiet, loud noises’ variety of chiller. This may make modern audiences jump out of their seats a couple of times, but it never really goes beyond that. Director John R. Leonetti, who is the cinematographer from The Conjuring, opts for easy scares and a predicable plot, rather than really challenging the medium and coming up with anything original.
May God have mercy on your soul!
The acting is also, much like the Annabelle doll herself, incredibly wooden and it’s hard to believe Mia and John Gordon’s relationship is real; they lack chemistry and deliver their lines terribly. It may not have been entirely their fault, the dialogue is very hammy and sounds horribly cheesy.
If originality is what you are looking for, this is not the film for you. It’s highly unoriginal (this was done before in Child’s Play and to much greater effect) and very formulaic. It’s a shame, because the Annabelle doll was creepy enough in The Conjuring, but now feels rote as a result. If you want to really be scared this year, see the utterly fantastic The Babadook instead.