Annabelle





Directed By: John R. Leonetti

Starring: Annabelle Wallis, Ward Horton, Tony Amendola, and Alfre Woodard

The last movie I saw about a doll was A Haunted House 2.  Though the atrocious spoof was much earlier in the year, my bitterness lingers on today.  With the notion of Marlon Wayans shamelessly sexing a doll named Abigail in the back of my mind, it's needless to say a horror movie about the doll on which Abigail is based is the last thing I want to see on the big screen.  As it stands, the Hollywood greed machine marches onward, and a spinoff prequel to The Conjuring has arrived with this weekend's Annabelle.  After enduring this nonsense, my only wish is for an extra slot in this year's already filled Wasted Movies List.

Mia and John Gordon (Annabelle Wallis and Ward Horton) are a loving couple about to welcome a baby into the world.  Their neighbors Sharon and Pete Higgins (Kerry O'Malley and Brian Howe) are an older couple who are reeling from the loss of their daughter Annabelle some two years ago, to hippies.  After church one day, the Gordon and Higgins couples go their separate ways into their homes.  John introduces Mia to the newest member of the family, a doll he just purchased.  Meanwhile, Sharon and Pete get reacquainted with an old member of their family who just happens to be out for blood.  Not a hippie but a member of the satanic cult known as The Disciples of Ram, Annabelle and her male friend kill Sharon and Pete.

Hearing Sharon's screams, Mia wakes John up and sends him over to investigate what's happening.  Having gone next door, Annabelle's reign of terror continues as she accosts a pregnant Mia.  John and the cops prevent any further murders at the hands Annabelle and her friend.  However, they can't do anything to stop Annabelle's suicide.  Oddly enough, Annabelle slits her throat with the Gordons' new doll in hand.  After things calm down, Mia goes on bed rest for the remainder of her pregnancy, and John gets started with his residency at the hospital.  During the day when John is away, strange phenomena begin to occur within the Gordon household, causing Mia to seem a bit out of sorts.  Little do either of them know that the source of her woes is that damned doll.

I can say this with certainty.  Annabelle has nothing on Chucky because this spinoff prequel to The Conjuring is nothing more than child's play.  The mark of a good supernatural horror movie is that the director can convince moviegoers to suspend their disbelief of the unreal.  Well, director John R. Leonetti fails to do this in every way in Annabelle.  Perhaps it's the film's quaint setting.  Perhaps it's the lack of death outside the bloody opening. Perhaps it's the nursery music Leonetti tries to make as symbolic of fear as the clapping game in The Conjuring.  Whatever the case, Annabelle is too damn silly for its own good.  It’s hardly believable or watchable.

There's no originality in Annabelle.  Leonetti just uses the tired playbook of today's horror movies.  It's abundantly clear from the cinematic techniques he employs.  You can see it in the grainy cinematography reminiscent of a number of other found footage horror films.  You can hear it in the hackneyed dialogue from screenwriter Gary Dauberman, which wastes the talents of the actors on hand.  You can feel it in the manner in which he fails to conjure up some frights β€” random nursery music, creepy people walking in the background, and supernatural occurrences intended to be scary.  Coming six years after Paranormal Activity, this has all been done to death and is no longer entertaining.

I've said this before, and I'll say it again.  Time flies during the best of films and stalls during the worst of them.  For Annabelle, the clock stopped completely, and I couldn't wait until this one was over.  The film lacks all the chills and thrills of its predecessor.  The best remedy to a movie like this can only be kamikaze shots.  Annabelle gets a wasted rating.