“Annabelle” tries to inflict the same scares as its predecessor but, in the end, feels more like a cheap haunted-house experience. Being a fan of the “Insidious” films, and the equally frightening “The Conjuring,” I had high hopes for “Annabelle” but never received the horror film I deserved.
The beginning of the film starts off strong enough. It’s at least a year before “The Conjuring,” and we’re introduced to Mia and John Gordon (Annabelle Wallis and Ward Horton), a young couple weeks away from having their first child. After narrowly surviving a home invasion, the couple begins to move on with their lives but something evil isn’t willing to let go of them so easily. While the events of the film are quite predictable, the filmmakers still did a good job of establishing the right mood. It’s just unfortunate that it’s downhill from there.
“Annabelle” just feels like a rehash of all of the best parts of previous installments, so nothing really feels fresh. There’s also one laughable scene where Mia becomes trapped in a spooky basement. As she runs up the steps from some sort of demonic creature, strobe lights seem to inexplicably fire up. It felt like a poorly orchestrated haunted house. It also seems that the writers didn’t really know what story they wanted to go with for the haunted doll. One moment it’s a demon, and the next it’s the vengeful spirit of a young girl, and then a demon again. I won’t even get into the awkward ending that really didn’t make sense.
Of course, in the end, the acting wasn’t much better than the story itself. Wallis feels like she’s trying too hard, and Horton was completely bland. I feel the worst for Alfre Woodard. Her only real purpose is to be Wallis’ connection to the spirit world, and she seems so completely bored that I don’t blame her for her decision at the end of the film.
With the built-in fan base, “Annabelle” should’ve been a sure thing, but the filmmakers took one of the creepiest elements from “The Conjuring,” the demonic Annabelle, and completely stripped away any mystery, thus ruining any fear.
If you can, avoid inviting this film into your house, because once inside, it will never go away.
Film: 2.5 Yaps