Director: John R. Leonetti
Writer: Gary Dauberman
Staring: Ward Horton, Annabelle Wallis, Alfre Woodard
Review by Will Woolery
Annabelle is full of cheap jump scares but still delivers creepiness that stays with you long after you leave the theater. As a spin-off from The Conjuring franchise it stands on its own two feet very well, almost too well, part of me wanted reappearance's of Vera Farmiga and other cast members. Regardless, it’s a fun Halloween time horror film that’s worth the money, more than things like Dracula Untold, also out now.
For the first time since Child's Play we get a real look at how an evil doll actually becomes an evil doll. However, the results are a bit confusing due to a less than stellar script. We're told at the beginning that the doll is named Annabelle because it holds the spirit of a girl named Annabelle, who was mixed up in a crazy murder cult. Later, we're told that the killings committed by Annabelle and her boyfriend were to summon a demon of sorts. Then when we see manifestations of the doll we see Annabelle, but we also see a demon pulling the strings of the whole operation. It’s just a tad bit confusing. Is the doll possessed by a demon? Is it possessed by Annabelle? Is Annabelle now a demon? Both the Demon and Annabelle are visually gruesome and terrifying regardless of the confusion. Scenes featuring the demon are actually a highlight and probably the scariest of the film.
Overall, Annabelle is a serviceable and adequate horror film that suffers from script issues and pretty bad casting choices, I'm looking at you Annabelle Wallis. Luckily director John Leonetti has the chops enough to make the movie look good, even if it looks a lot like Rosemary's Baby, and build the tension up to a great degree. There's nothing new in Annabelle. Everything in the film is impersonating other styles the 70s pale olive color scheme to the not subtly named protagonist; Mia after Mia Farrow and John for John Casavettes the stars of the Rosemary’s Baby. The scares and visuals are all redos from much better movies, but the mix and match of 70s horror tropes and homages works exceedingly well. This is regardless of the plot and character issues. You know a horror movie's working when the theater going audience actually starts to scream "NO" at certain shots. Namely, the horrifying image of the all black demon stalking Mia through the apartment building.
If you're bored this Halloween season, Annabelle is definitely worth a look to get your scare fix especially with such few other offerings this year.
- Will Woolery
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