If you’re even the least bit familiar with my reviews and genre preferences, you know about my love for horror. I watch too many gore-infused horror flicks dripping with cheesiness for my own good, and even the worst of those have outdone the disaster that is Annabelle.
Presented before us is a film that exists as a side-story to the highly acclaimed horror favorite of 2013, The Conjuring. (If you have yet to see it, DO IT ALREADY. YOU’VE HAD A YEAR.)
We begin Annabelle identically to The Conjuring. That’s right, folks. The first few minutes are just carbon copies from The Conjuring. Eventually, we are presented with the necessary “One Year Earlier” frame, outlining the much-anticipated roots of Annabelle the doll. This is when we meet Mia and John Gordon, a happily married couple with a baby on the way.
Without giving too much of the plot away, here’s an introduction to Annabelle: Mia and John experience a home invasion by two members of a Satanic cult. A female cult member stabs Mia in the stomach just as the cops arrive and is shot, bleeding onto the Annabelle doll as she dies. Mia, John, and the baby survive the attack, and their baby, Lea, is eventually born. However, there is a deep uneasiness lurking underneath the surface, and the couple moves homes after Mia begins to experience paranormal events she believes are linked to the attack.
From here, you expect Annabelle to kick it into full gear as it delves deeper into the Satanic and supernatural abilities the doll now possesses. For the most part, it presents them, but in the most mundane possible way.
Annabelle is a film that builds in intensity but eventually fails to lead anywhere. We expect big thrills to come, and we are left empty-handed almost every single time. The scares are cheap and the film’s opportunity to explore the mythological aspects of Annabelle and the cult responsible for its demonic possession are left untold. Instead, we get 98 minutes of suspense, leading to nowhere but a terribly executed finale. It feels like a drama film desperately attempting to be considered horror.
The scares in Annabelle, I will admit, are spine-tingling at times. There are several minutes in the film that are fulfilling for horror fans like myself, but the fact that it is only those minutes of the film proves that Annabelle is an awfully executed piece of cinema. The pacing of the film is highly uneven, the acting is subpar at times, and the script leaves much to be desired. For an October release, we deserve better than a poorly written, badly directed horror film like Annabelle.
I will admit, there is a possibility I am being more critical of this film due to my love of The Conjuring. And yet, in the scope of Annabelle existing outside of The Conjuring universe, Annabelle still feels like a lousy film. Few will enjoy it as a new favorite cult classic, but only if absolutely none of it is taken seriously. Believe me, with this film, it’s not very difficult to accomplish.