Dear filmmakers; films about demonic dolls have been officially exhausted. Please let Annabelle be the last of them.
This is the story of how The Conjuring’s demonic doll came to be. A young man buys his wife the beautiful Victorian doll she has apparently been searching for forever, only for it to completely flip out and try to destroy their neighbours, home and newborn baby all at once. John and Mia (there are a few desperate nod’s to Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby in this film, which don’t help its cause at all), seem all too familiar – he is the pragmatic cynic and she the hysterical and paranoid believer. Tired gender stereotypes notwithstanding, Ward Horton appears much too relaxed for a horror film, even one as predictable as Annabelle. With the exception of a few precious moments, the acting remained as wooden as the doll, who incidentally manages to destroy the lives of five people whilst remaining immobile on her shelf for the 90 per cent of the film, for which she deserves some grudging respect.
Despite throwing every single horror cliché in the book at us, Annabelle still feels like the Chucky’s underachieving younger sibling, and as the film progresses its desperation to scare becomes increasingly bemusing, until almost ridiculous. You could go to the latest possible showing and walk back in the dark afterwards, but not only did the fear will not follow you home – it won’t even make it past the cinema door. It is so aggressively bad that it is unenjoyable.
There are a few nail-biting build ups – a sewing machine running dangerously fast alongside Mia’s fingers and the long pause before a face appears in the crack through which she’s looking. However, if you want a real scare, Annabelle is quite frankly a waste of time – it really does not live up to The Conjuring, despite no doubt benefiting from the association. The scariest thing about this film is the fact it made 37 million dollars on its opening weekend.