By Lynn Sorel
Rating: 6 out of 10
Synopsis: 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.
Our thoughts: *SPOILERS* Annabelle is a spin off prequel to the extremely successful 2013 horror film “The Conjuring”. While the film is quite scary at times, with scenes reminiscent of Rosemary’s Baby and Insidious, it doesn’t really add anything new to the genre, leaving this fan feeling somewhat empty.
Annabelle starts off with the clip from The Conjuring, when Annabelle is first introduced in an early investigation by Ed and Lorraine Warren. The clip ends with the girls who had the doll saying they don’t know where it came from, then skips to a year earlier. We are introduced to pregnant couple Mia and John who are in a church service. That night, John gives Mia, a doll collector, a new doll that she had been desperately searching for. During the night their neighbors are killed by intruders who then attack Mia as she’s calling for an ambulance. The cops arrive, shooting the male intruder, while the female locks herself in the baby’s room and kills herself with the doll in hand. The female attacker, Annabelle Higgins, was the neighbor’s daughter. They are later told that Annabelle and the male intruder were members of a murderous satanic cult.
Mia recovers from her stab wound and is told to stay home on bed rest for the next few weeks. Creepy things start happening in the house soon after. These include sounds come from the baby’s room when no one’s in it, and the new doll is moved when no one had touched it. Mia, feeling that the doll was to blame, insists they get rid of it. John immediately throws the doll out in the outside trash can. This of course leads to bad news as a fire then starts in their house.
Despite having been thrown away before the house fire, the couple mysteriously find the doll at the bottom of a box while they are unpacking. Mia decided to keep the doll anyways since John had spent so much money on it for her. Before long, creepy things start happening again. The ghost of Annabelle Higgins appears in her apartment in one of the most frightening scenes in the film. Later, what appears to be a demon follows her in the basement of the apartment building, making for an incredibly creepy elevator scene. Mia soon learns that a demon, using the doll as a conduit, is haunting her and her baby because it wants a soul. The movie continues on with quite a few scary scenes but ultimately a disappointing ending.
Annabelle is an enjoyable film, but to be blunt, feels like it was only made to cash in on success of The Conjuring. I went into the film expecting the doll itself to have a starring role, but it was not even the source of the scares for most to the film and more of a creepy decoration. In addition, the back story given to the doll in this film is fictional and the only part of film that is based on truth is the clip from The Conjuring. Fortunately, all of the acting in the movie is strong. Alfre Woodard, who plays Evelyn, gives a standout performance. Despite a weak story line, the film was well made and I did enjoy it. However I think I would have liked it better had they instead showed us the real story in its entirety. Fans of The Conjuring will enjoy some good scares from Annabelle but may find themselves ultimately disappointed with what otherwise was a promising film.