If you saw The Conjuring, the record-breaking 2013 horror movie from Saw director James Wan, then you know that Annabelle has a backstory, and this is it. Before it was quarantined by the Warrens, before Donna the Nursing Student learned it was the worst graduation present ever in The Conjuring, it was a pre-baby gift for Mia Form from her husband, John. Mia, a collector of antique dolls, was actually excited about the creepy doll, which tells you just how wrong this movie is; but when a gruesome home invasion occurs (no spoilers. It’s in the trailers.), Mia’s love for the doll changes to uneasy suspicion.
It’s hard to talk about a horror movie without giving away the “plot” (and I use that word loosely)–scary movies especially rely so heavily on every single surprise that revealing any of the secrets makes the whole movie pointless to watch. Luckily for you, I can tell you that this movie is pointless to watch without giving away a single thing.
Let’s start with Annabelle: the doll itself is absurd looking. There is just no way that this thing ever existed in nature as a child’s toy! It is a caricature of a scary doll that someone writing a scary movie would come up with. Take in to account that the actual Annabelle is a Raggedy Anne doll, and this iteration has just become the clichest doll since Bride of Chucky. It is creepy at first, I agree. But as you watch the movie, where she spends most of her time in a room with lovely porcelain dolls, the contrast between poor Annabelle and the other real collector’s items becomes laughable.
The scares are mediocre at best. The majority of good scares in this movie come from a loud bang in a dead silent room–anyone with decent hearing is going to jump. I will honestly admit there is one scene with an elevator and a basement that is absolutely fantastic. Terrifying. But if you’re sitting in a theatre for 98 minutes, one good scene does not a good horror movie make.
The story is boring. A creepy doll, a cult, a priest, and a kindly neighbor walk in to a bar… oh, you’ve heard this one? Trust me, there is absolutely nothing new that is going to happen in this movie. Sometimes it’s pulling straight from other, better movies (Rosemary’s Baby), and sometimes it’s just sitting around listening to the characters talk about what they had for breakfast. Either way, no surprises here.
You’re still going to see it, though, aren’t you? That’s okay. I would have, too. I adamantly believe that if you’re going to see a scary movie, it has got to be in the theater instead of at home. You’ll be happy to know your time won’t be entirely wasted. There are some quality special effects. A few legitimate scary moments–three, I think. A baby that just about steals the movie, she’s so cute. About 20 exciting minutes of guessing and second guessing who the real bad guy is. There’s some fun to be had with this movie… just don’t plan your night around it. Or double feature it with Gone Girl. I hear that one’s going to be good.
Annabelle stars Annabelle Wallis and Ward Horton and is directed by John R. Leonetti.
Interested in the “real” Annabelle? Read her story here.