After seeing The Conjuring at midnight of it’s release (which, was more than a perfect setting), the first thing I did was do research. A lot of it. Mostly, surrounding the mysterious doll, the Annabelle doll, which took up a bunch of the previews, but was only about 10% of the actual story. How disappointed, I was, that this fascinating story only took up about 15 minutes, maybe, of screen time?
Well, fast forward to now, and a movie version is finally out, the aptly titled Annabelle, which explores the supposedly true story about how the doll came to be and, with the attachment of being related to Conjuring, has come out with all sorts of hype and is battling with David Fincher’s new (and, from what I hear, fantastic) Gone Girl for box office supremacy.
But, does Annabelle hold to the same Conjuring standard? Or will it fall in the muddle of modern horror. Let’s explore.
While James Wan isn’t directly behind the camera on this one, he still has a hand on the producing end of it, and the beautiful aesthetic is still there. No, it isn’t as clean as Conjuring or Insidious: Chapter 2, but it’s not any one of the Saw films, either. Alright, nerd side out of the way, let’s talk about the actual movie itself.
The one thing it does so well is instilling fear in you, especially (and I cannot stress this enough) every time the Annabelle doll is in the shot. You can’t help but draw all of your attention to her, expecting her to make a subtle movement. There’s also an effective actual story line other than this possessed doll, as well. Much like in Sinister, it becomes partly a movie about who (or what) is doing all of these awful things, but also an exploration into where it comes from or what purpose it has. Along with this, the inclusion of period current events, such as the Manson Family Murders, are included, which is a nice touch. Finally, and probably most importantly with a horror film, is it’s fracking scary. In some ways, I’d say it’s actually more terrifying than The Conjuring, because there’s a lot of psychological suffering as well (what would you do if your baby was wanted by a demon?). Also, there’s one scene in particular that is almost straight out Insidious (the first one), where you see the best for the first time, hidden behind something else.
Not To See
There’s a lot I liked with this movie. There really was. However, it is by no means a perfect movie, and we are going to get into that right now. First of all, it’s important to remember while watching that the movie takes place about a year before the events of The Conjuring. Why is it so important to remember that? Because, where Wan excelled in styling the predecessor (to the point of, if you agree with several reviews of the movie, annoyance) John R. Leonetti didn’t do quite as apt as a job. There were times where I forgot this wasn’t a modern-day piece, which definitely made the movie feel not as whole. The script also is bland. It’s a lot of the same thing – husband and wife get into argument, husband apologizes, things are okay, Annabelle strikes, repeat. It also isn’t reinventive – as I said above, it immediately made me think of three or four movies while watching it, and I didn’t even mention the involvement of a priest character (a la The Devil Inside).
Final Verdict on Annabelle
In my mind, there’s more good than bad with this move, and it’s an enjoyable time to watch it. If you’re wanting this to be the next
(in terms of what it does for the genre), you’ll be disappointed. Like I said, it’s a fun time to see it, and if you’re a fan of Wan or the genre in general, it’s worth seeing in theatres. If you’re on the fence about it, it wouldn’t kill you to see it in theatres, but it wont hurt to wait until it comes to Redbox either. Regardless, definitely see it, and it’ll hold you over for the
sequel next year.