release date: 3 October 2014 (Canada)
run time: 98 mins
director: John R. Leonetti
starring: Annabelle Wallis, Ward Horton, Tony Amendola, Alfre Woodard, Kerry O’Malley, Brian Howe, Eric Ladin, Ivar Brogger, Geoff Wehner, Gabriel Bateman, Shiloh Nelson, Sasha Sheldon, Camden Singer, Robin Pearson Rose, Keira Daniels
movie summary: If you ventured out to the theatres last year to watch The Conjuring then you may already be acquainted with the possessed doll named Annabelle. The doll with bright eyes, a beautiful dress, and an evil smile currently resides in a locked room at the home of Ed and Lorraine Warren. This doll is visited twice a month by a priest for a blessing because the doll serves as a gateway to hell and the Devil. Annabelle is famous for a series of events back in the 1960s that are played out in this movie.
John Gordon (Ward Horton) and his wife Mia (Annabelle Wallis) own a home in a quiet neighbourhood in Los Angeles, California where they hope to raise a family. Mia is about seven months pregnant when their neighbour’s house gets broken into. Peter and Sharon Higgins have a daughter who joined a satanic cult before returning home to murder them. When Mia witnesses the bloodshed, she wakes her husband who goes to the house to check out the scene. While outside, the daughter and your psycho boyfriend break into the Gordon home and stab Mia in the stomach. The Higgins daughter is shot dead by the cops in the baby’s room holding the Annabelle doll. The blood from her head wound has dripped onto the doll and into its soul.
After a few days in the hospital Mia returns home where strange things begin to happen. The rocking chair in the baby’s room begins to rock on its own, the sewing machine starts up all by itself, and Mia begins to see images of women in blood soaked clothes all over the house. One day when a random fire starts in the kitchen, Mia tries her best to escape but is pulled back into the smoke and flames before neighbors break in to rescue her.
When Mia gives birth to a baby girl she convinces John that the doll is evil and they can’t go back to their house. John throws Annabelle away in the trash only to find the doll at the bottom of a moving box in their new home in Sacramento. Mia has a change of heart and agrees to keep the doll. Her act of good faith turns her life into a nightmare as stranger things begin to happen at night while John is at work. She begins to see creepy kids in the hallways, finds drawings of her dead baby, comes face to face with the devil in the basement, on top of hearing yelling and shouting in the upstairs apartment even though no one lives there.
Mia befriends the local book store owner Evelyn (Alfre Woodard), who understands the troubles that she is experiencing. Together they look through satanic cult books that explain in great detail why the demon may be haunting her. After lots of research the pair come to the conclusion that this powerful demon, that has direct ties to the devil himself, is after the baby’s soul and will stop at nothing to get it. Mia convinces John, through her research, of these problems so he calls in Father Perez (Tony Amendola) to come take the doll away. The demon doesn’t take a liking to Father Perez and tries to kill him before returning to Gordon apartment to take the baby’s soul and end all this once and for all.
my thoughts: I have complained before in my reviews that they just don’t make horror movies like they used to. After The Conjuring made millions the studio got together and brainstormed a way to create a prequel of sorts for that movie and its upcoming sequel. In an attempt to scare today’s generation, like they did back in the 1980s with Chuckie, they created Annabelle, the worse possible doll horror movie you could ever imagine.
Annabelle the doll does not move, wink, change her smile, or spin her head like the girl did in The Exorcist. The doll just keeps the same dumb happy expression on her face throughout the whole movie. What made the audience burst out laughing was how the doll would be placed in the room and the camera angle was supposed to be the frightening part, like “oh look the doll is in rocking chair, but I don’t recall placing her there.” The doll is only serving a pathway for the devil to come to life and snatch up people’s souls. This movie may be called Annabelle but the devil himself makes more scary appearances then the doll does. The guy with horns is on a mission to claim Mia’s baby and will stalk her in dark places where as Annabelle just sits in the room and does nothing.
How anyone in their right mind would think that this suppose to be cute/charming doll deserves her own horror movie is out of their mind. I went to see this movie for a laugh, that was it, plain and simple. I’ve seen Chuckie, I’ve seen The Conjuring, and I’ve seen many other scary horror movies that this could only wish to be. It would have been so much cooler, and somewhat predictable, to have Annabelle spring to life at some point. She could have cause so much more trouble than strange sounds, turning on appliances, and knocking books off the book shelf.
I feel bad for Annabelle Wallis, not for just sharing a name with the lead star of the movie, but for being cast as the typical crazy wife. Mia begins to experience everything that could go wrong when demons come calling for souls, but at the beginning no one believes her and think she’s just overreacting. Why do so many people never believe the hysterical woman who just witnessed dead people in her house and an unexplained fire? When someone finally figures that out than Hollywood will have to change-up its game plan to scare us, because it works today, it worked 30 years ago, and will work probably 20 years from now. Recycled stories with new characters and dimensions only continue on the tradition of sub par horror movies that have been around since the 1990s. There will never be a new creative idea like Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, or even The Exorcist.
There are two good parts to this movie; one is when they actually keep it a horror movie and don’t include an exorcism at the end. Hollywood has taken short cuts recently with almost EVERY horror movie turning into “someone/something is possessed and we must perform an exorcism to end the movie.” I hate going to horror movies today because they are all like that, this one stayed the course and tried to scare you right up until the final scene. The other part I thought that went well with the story line was the inclusion of the Charles Mason murders. It fit the time period of this movie and blended in perfectly with how Annabelle got her evil powers.
my final thoughts: I go watch every movie that comes out at Cineplex for three reasons, one because I love to go watch movies, two because it’s a social outing for me, and three so I can write about them. I went to see Annabelle to write a review here and tell you to never watch this movie. Maybe if you are bored one night when it’s on Netflix next year, then take a peek, but do not waste a single penny on this movie because it is not worth it.
my star rating: 1 out 10
rottentomatoes.com: 32% out 100%
rogerebert.com: 1 out 4