Annabelle (2014)

annabelle_2014_poster
Annabelle (2014)
  • Time: 98 min
  • Genre: Horror
  • Director: John R. Leonetti
  • Cast: Annabelle Wallis, Ward Horton, Alfre Woodard

Storyline:

John Form has found the perfect gift for his expectant wife, Mia – a beautiful, rare vintage doll in a pure white wedding dress. But Mia’s delight with Annabelle doesn’t last long. On one horrific night, their home is invaded by members of a satanic cult, who violently attack the couple. Spilled blood and terror are not all they leave behind. The cultists have conjured an entity so malevolent that nothing they did will compare to the sinister conduit to the damned that is now… Annabelle.

4 reviews

  • While Annabelle is based on a true story, this prequel/spin-off to last years The Conjuring, is actually a fictitious origins story of the haunted doll. For those that have seen The Conjuring will know the film is based on a true story, which features Annabelle, however the true origins of Annabelle is still unknown.

    It’s great to see a horror centered around a doll as we haven’t had anything like this since the Child’s Play series, but while that was a possessed doll going around killing everyone, Annabelle is focused more on the paranormal side with soul possession. It’s very different to any horror you may have seen recently and while it uses a lot of similar scare techniques the story as a whole is very different, just a shame it’s not based on Annabelle’s ‘REAL’ story.Annabelle Pic

    For a horror it has all the usual elements, however it starts off far too slowly. It’s always important to build up the tension and set the story, however Annabelle takes far too long to get going. Once the horror gets going, visually it’s a film you’ll find yourself watching behind your hands with some downright creepy moments (think Insidious mixed with Silent Hill).

    The horror genre of late has found a way of cutting down it’s costs to make as much profit as possible, with the casting. Horror films love to cast unknown actors to save on costs and while its smart, it does lose a lot of the star power they really could do with. With a top Hollywood name, it attracts all walks of people because they can recognise someone famous. Even with The Conjuring, it had names like Vera Farmiga (The Judge) and Patrick Wilson (Insidious: Chapter 2), but Annabelle has not one notable actor in their cast.

    While it’s a very different style of horror, they stray away from the ‘real’ story of Annabelle, it takes a while to get into the horror, but once the scares come they are frightening. With The Conjuring 2 scheduled for October 2015, based on the Enfield Poltergeist (something that is local to me), this is a great stop gap between horror films. Annabelle receives 6/10, move over Chucky theirs a new creepy doll in town.

    Story 6
    Characters 5
    Interest 4
    Ending 6.5
    Horror 8.5

  • On the surface, “Annabelle” has all the elements that made the original “Conjuring” such a great horror movie. Sadly, the film falls tragically short of what it should have been. Inspired by a true story, “Annabelle” depicts the origins of the creepy doll from “The Conjuring”, as it tries to explain how a satanic demon might have attached itself onto the doll to begin with. Unlike the original “Conjuring” though, the story for this particular movie is entirely fictional. None of it has ever been proven to be true, as the film tends to take a lot of liberties with the actual story behind the possessed toy.

    The entire story allegedly takes place before the two nurses, Donna and Angie, ever received the doll, as this prequel predates those events. To be honest, I think this might have been a missed opportunity. From what I’ve researched on the true story behind “Annabelle”, the real story might have proven to be far scarier than what we actually got.

    In the original true story, it involved a young college student named Donna receiving a doll as a gift from her mother, who bought it from an old antique shop. At the time, she was living with her roommate, Angie, as they both were studying to become nurses. During that time, the doll would move around to different areas of the apartment, while they were gone. And, they would sometimes find it had changed positions without anyone touching it (i.e. the doll’s arms would be crossed and etc). The nurses wondered if someone might have been playing a prank on them, by moving the doll in all these positions while they weren’t home.

    However, there were no signs of a break in. Things got even worse when the doll would sometimes leave mysterious notes all over the apartment written in a child’s handwriting, while sometimes having blood over it’s hands; with hardly any ration explanation behind it. The nurses would eventually call a psychic medium, who claims the doll was merely possessed by a poor little girl named Annabelle Higgins that died at a young age.

    The psychic says that the little girl only wants to be loved by the two nurses, and live with them forever. The nurses being touched by this gladly accept, and invite Annabelle to stay with them forever. Little did they know that it was actually a demon using the doll to fake a possession, so it could gain permission to haunt their home. Once this was done, things started to get even worse. In fact, one of the girl’s friends nearly got killed because of the doll feeling threatened by his presence. This of course would lead to them calling on the Warren couple to straighten this out, who would later reveal there was never was a deceased girl named Annabelle Higgins.

    In fact, they reveal it’s been a demon the entire time using the doll, to trick the two girls into letting it haunt their apartment, so it can eventually possess one of them, or possibly even both. Along the way, the Warrens try to drive the doll back to their home, to keep it from harming anyone, but the doll tries to kill them by screwing with the car’s engine. However, the Warrens merely splash holy water on it, while reciting an incantation before continuing on their way.

    Although the alleged real story sounds rather simplistic, and it was mostly explained in “The Conjuring”, but the premise of the real story would have been a great one to explore. The real life story behind “Annabelle” is both disturbing, and horrifying. In fact, it’s almost feels like a wasted opportunity.

    Instead, we’re given a fictional story that not only contradicts aspects behind the real story, but it also doesn’t hold up too well on it’s own. The plot starts off with a newlywed couple settling into their new suburban home. The neighborhood seems quiet and peaceful at first, as it’s almost reminiscent of a Norman Rockwell painting.

    The wife is pregnant, while her husband is an aspiring medical student. They seem like the perfect couple, as they rarely ever argue about anything. As they move into their new home, the husband buys his wife a new doll as a gift. Through a series of events, a demon attaches itself onto the doll due to the actions of their neighbors, who happen to be Satanic worshipers. Coincidentally, one of the Satanic worshipers happens to be named Annabelle Higgins.

    From there, the story starts to shift from what used to be a picture perfect life that eerily resembled a Norman Rockwell painting, to a work of art that may be similar to Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” painting. Figuratively speaking of course.

    Like the original true story this film was inspired by, Annabelle starts off moving through various parts of the house while the young couple are away. Sometimes, they would find her throughout various parts of the house in different positions; even though none of them have moved her. Eventually, this leads to the doll inflicting physical harm on the wife, and her baby, which forces them to turn to a priest. However, he might be in for more than he bargained for, as this little hell spawn isn’t going away quietly without a soul to take back to hell.

    In spite of the film’s short comings, “Annabelle” is actually quite scary. In fact, there were quite a few moments, where I found myself often petrified at some of the creepy imagery. Everything from the atmosphere, the cinematography, visual effects and settings help create an eerily creepy environment chalked full of mystery and horror, as John R. Leonetti does a tremendous job directing this film.

    However, most of the movie’s follies lie within the script itself. As I mentioned earlier, one aspect this film contradicts about the original story is that the demon couldn’t inflict physical harm on anyone until someone invited it in. Heck, it’s even stated in the original “Conjuring” as well. Yet in this prequel, it ignores that rule entirely. Once a demon attaches itself to the doll, it doesn’t feel the need to manipulate the couple into thinking it’s possessed by some dead girl, as it’s already able to inflict all sorts of damage without such trivial actions.

    It makes it kind of confusing because, in the first film, it’s clearly established that the demon had to go out of it’s way to trick the nurses into letting it into their lives, so it can get close enough to possess one of them eventually. Yet in this prequel, it’s basically a non factor. “Annabelle” can do whatever the hell she wants, with little to no limitations. This not only ruins the continuity of this franchise as it relates to “The Conjuring”, but it makes the events of the original horror story seem kind of pointless. If Annabelle didn’t need anyone inviting her in, then why couldn’t she just start haunting the nurses right away? If we’re to assume “Annabelle” is canon to “The Conjuring”, then it only makes the whole charade of the doll tricking them seem kind of pointless.

    When I read the original story behind the real life Annabelle, one aspect I noticed about that story is that Annabelle was not only dangerous, but she was highly deceitful as well, when you think about it. She managed to trick two nurses into thinking she was a poor hopeless little girl that only wanted a friend, but it was all an elaborate ruse to get one of their souls. This not only made Annabelle seem diabolically sinister in nature, but highly intelligent as well to come up with such an elaborate scheme.

    In fact, it was even stated in the original “Conjuring” that these events happened, but “Annabelle” tosses those rules away; which makes the actions of her “Conjuring” counterpart seem kind of pointless and dumb.

    As for the main characters though, none of them were particularly interesting outside of the housewife that’s played by Annabelle Wallis. Am I the only one that finds it weird that the lead actress of this film has the exact same name as the creepy possessed doll in this horror feature?

    Annabelle Wallis tries her best to carry the movie, and she practically does for the most part. Throughout the film, she resonates a gargantuan amount of vulnerability and emotion that makes you weep for her character, when we see how much the doll tortures her. However, it’s the rest of the cast that falls short in this one. The husband is rarely ever in the movie because of his job, and whenever we do see him, he just comes off like some random “Gary Stu” character that you hardly ever give a damn about.

    You also have some African American girl that tries to help that’s heavily educated in religion and the dark arts of demonology. Although the back story she’s given is rather touching, and the actress playing her isn’t that bad either, but she’s given very little screen time for us to ever grow to care about her as a character.

    As for the narrative of this story, it doesn’t make any sense. In the original story, there was a certain mystery behind the doll because you never quite knew where the demon came from, or even how the doll would become a conduit for it to possess others.

    In this prequel, everything is explained to the point that it takes out all of the mystery, which humanizes a character like Annabelle that never needed it to begin with. One of the reasons why Heath Ledger’s “Joker” was such a terrifying villain in “The Dark Knight” was because you knew next to nothing about him. He was an enigma. Sure, you knew he was bats*** crazy, but you never knew what his true motivations were half the time, or even who he really was; which made the Joker come across more like a monster than anything else. In this film, it attempts to answer a question that never needed an answer to begin with.

    Plus, the plot hole about how the doll ends up in the antique shop is never addressed. After it’s done haunting that couple, it mysteriously ends up in the antique store for some old lady to buy it for her daughter, who happens to be Donna from the original story. But how did it get in there? And why? Why not a “Toys R Us” store? Or a “Target” shopping center or something? Why specifically that antique shop? It makes no sense from a narrative perspective, and all it does is create a huge plot hole in the story.

    Don’t get me wrong, “Annabelle” is not a bad horror flick, as it’s definitely better than what most critics are giving it credit for. However, it’s fairly mediocre at best. The story is lazily written, and most of the characters are poorly developed. However, it’s a fairly decent horror movie to check out if you’re into that sort of stuff, but I wouldn’t bother going out to the theater to see it.

  • I’m a horror movie fan – I’m a fan of the original evil dead trilogy to Romero to Poltergeist, korean horror, french horror etc… I’m also a fan of the new wave of horror. I’m a fan of the Conjuring as it was a film that made me think the art of a horror movie is back.

    First off… this isn’t made by James Wan… it’s made by it’s filmographer so off of the bat you’re probably going to get some cool scenes but perhaps lack of character development. The budget of Annabelle is $5 million (that’s 1/4 of what the Conjuring cost). Let me tell you the script is the weakest part of this film.

    The movie starts off slow… this is where the film should really get you into the characters but there isn’t much here, it’s generic. It’s the weakest part of the film. You have your standard couple… man goes to work, woman stays home and experiences weird stuff. The problem with this is that it’s hard for you to bother to relate to the characters. This kind of kills the film for me. There were actually a lot that could have been explored but they didn’t touch like the kids in the apartment.

    Now the good. There is very little CGI – perhaps none. It’s all old school. This is something that anyone could actually film…. chair moving, oven is on, someone standing there. It’s good. It works. There’s a great scene here with a baby. Are there enough scares? Not really. The pay off for the film felt like they might have fixed the movie for censors but even though the film is Rated R.

    There’s a lot missing in this film. It’s not horrible. It’s worth a rental. It’s your average horror movie.

  • Do you know that feeling when you are watching a movie that is full of elements or pieces that are not only inspired by other films we’ve seen in the past, but are evident rip off of concepts, scenes and characters that you’ve seen before done in much better way. This is what you will feel watching the newest horror film “Annabelle” from director John R. Leonetti who was an actual director of photography on excellent “Insidious” movies as well as “The Conjuring” which was’t bad in it’s own right. His other directing credits were far from A- list and this is what we feel watching his newest directorial attempt.
    There is a strong feel of inspiration from Roman Polanski horror masterpiece the “Rosemary’s Baby” in fact the main female lead is called Mia (Annabelle Wallis) same as Mia Farrow an actress in the original “Rosemary’s Baby” playing the titled Rosemary Woodhouse who suspects that her baby is in danger from the satanic cult that wants it to become a Devil reincarnate.

    Leonetti sets up the story in 1968 just after the Manson Family murders of Sharon Tate and LaBianca which shock America to it’s core and forever change the collective feeling of innocence and safety created in post war America. The lead characters are a young couple who are expecting a baby. They are being witnesses to horrendous crime committed next door which eventually drags them down into conflict with Satanic Cult which is trying to summon the demons. As the attackers move on onto the next target, they are being stopped by the Police and one of them commits suicide and her evil soul enters a creepy looking doll Annabel which was a present form a young doctor John (Ward Horton) to his wife (Annabelle Wallis) and his unborn daughter.
    Fast forward few months ahead and this young family is living in the new home and go figure the evil followed them there attaching itself to the doll. They try to get ride of the doll but is it not too late to be saved…?
    Reading this you must admit that “Annabelle” sounds like a many other movies put together and not even James Wan (super talented original director of “Insidious” and “SAW” movies) as a producer was enough to make this film a cult classic.

    All things considered at least the acting was good starting from very lovely Annabelle Wallis who displayed a sense of confusion and fright that was deeply felt by the audience. Her doctor husband played by Ward Horton had that 1960 old movie star look and delivered believable characterization as a husband who as a doctor does not fully believe his wife until it is too late. All the other supporting cast did well.
    I must say there are some scary moments in “Annabelle” but the cinematography often looks digital breaking the believability factor which is a must, for the full experience in horror film. You can hear that “Annabelle’s” sound and music design was heavily inspired by “Insidious” which in itself if a very good thing because for those who understand filmmaking, great sound and music design is a half of the success in horror. Sadly the other more visual half did not deliver as well as we hoped for. “Annabel” is not as quite awful as “Chucky” but it could have been so much better.
    (****** out of 10)
    For more of my film review go to: http://www.facebook.com/JanuszMadejTechnique

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