Annabelle – The Doll Is The Best Actor In The Movie – Review

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Courtesy New Line

The Conjuring was one of the best horror films ever made, so you know the greedy (or opportunistic depending on your point of view) studio was going to rush out some sort of sequel as quickly as possible to cash in on its success. You will get The Conjuring 2 in 2015.  This isn’t it.

Think of Annabelle as some sort of spinoff like The Ropers was a spinoff of Three’s Company or The Cleveland Show is a spinoff of Family Guy (did I just feel most of you wince?).  Annabelle doesn’t feature any of the major actors from The Conjuring, is not directed by the director of The Conjuring, and is not written by the writer of The Conjuring.  They just want you to think it is The Conjuring and enjoy it by association.

Instead, we get Annabelle “she must have scored this gig based on her name” Wallis starring as Mia – a young married woman living in California with her husband, Dr. John (Ward Horton), and an impressive doll collection.  The two are trying to live a nice, quiet, idyllic suburban life of privilege circa 1969, but, one disastrous evening, their home is invaded by violent Satanists who attack the pregnant Mia.

Mia and John survive, but she is put on bed rest for the remainder of her pregnancy.  What a perfect time for all sorts of things to start going bump in the night and during the day!

What is causing these disturbing noises and oddities?

What does it want?

You have to expect a certain camp factor when the movie is about a haunted doll, and director John Leonetti and writer Gary Dauberman should have embraced it, owned it and exploited it.  Instead, they deliver a flaccid film full of shocks, but not much else.  Why are they taking it all so seriously?

Sadly, we learned the actual Annabelle story in The Conjuring, so this movie fabricates an entirely new story to scare us, which might be disconcerting to anyone who has studied Lorraine and Ed Warren’s work (which was the basis for The Conjuring and Annabelle), or were hoping this movie would be part of a series of films based on that work.  The Warrens’ stories are so much better than anything a Hollywood scriptwriter could conjure up, and this movie is proof they should just stick to the source material.

Dauberman makes Annabelle a series of cheap, predictable scares without much of a story driving the action forward, while Leonetti is more concerned with setting up the scares than developing any aspect of the film.

Worst of all, the two stars are too pretty and too vacant to be compelling.  Wallis and Horton are stiff and unbelievable at every turn.  You expect to find these two working as models on Mad Men instead of fighting evil successfully.  The doll has more emotional range.

Leonetti does what he can to wring a few screams from the thin story, and poor Alfre Woodard is acting circles around her less able co-stars, but Annabelle is a stinker.

1waffles_sml1 Waffle (Out of 4)

Annabelle is rated R for intense sequences of disturbing violence and terror.

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