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Horror is one of my favorite movie genres. I really wasn't expecting to
hate this as much as I did but it is astonishingly terrible. Really. I
loved The Conjuring - this is nothing like The Conjuring. At all. It's
a blatant cash-grab and a terrible one at that.
There is zero tension throughout this movie. Zero suspense. Everything is reliant on close ups of the dolls face to "creep" us out and really long periods of time where NOTHING HAPPENS. Literally, it's about this couple that we do not care about and their stupid problems which we care even less about. I don't know if they were trying to build suspense in these scenes but in order to build suspense you actually have to care about the characters. Or at least have, you know, suspense; a lingering sense of danger. This had nothing. And holy hell that ending.
The positives of this movie: The lead girl is beautiful. She's easy to look at. The soundtrack is pretty cool too. That's it. The characters are horrendous and the acting is even worse. Seriously if you're going to make a movie this awful at least have the decency to take an acting lesson or two. It's a dreadful watch. Please, don't waste your time with this cash grab sh*t stain. Don't give them the satisfaction. Watch something good like Sinister or 1408 - haunting movies done right.
There were only two, count em', two well constructed and (more
importantly) scary sequences throughout this entire HORROR MOVIE (the
home invasion part and the elevator bit). If that fact alone is enough
to get one person not to watch "Annabelle", then I've done my job as a
If you went into "Annabelle" wanting to see something along the lines of "Child's Play" or at the very least, a doll-centric horror movie where dolls are either animated in some fashion or at the very least, trip someone as they walk down the stairs, then you will be savagely disappointed. On the other hand, if you were a fan of the small snippet of Annabelle's story shown in "The Conjuring" and wanted a terrifying and in-depth origins story, then you will be disappointed as well.
Synopsis: With an engaging set up, set against the rampant cult-phobia of the 60's, "Annabelle" is the story of a couple living in California who begin to experience paranormal occurrences after the husband gifts his pregnant, doll-crazed wife a doll, that soaks up blood faster than a Bounty paper towel. After that, the plot falls pretty flat by turning its focus away from the scary doll element, as the story becomes 10% "Rosemary's Baby", 20% every single haunted house movie ever and 70% watered down scares.
Aside from the fact that not for one second did I care about any of the characters here, for the most part director John R. Leonetti (the director of photography of "The Conjuring") does a lazy job of "conjuring" up scares. For about 80 minutes of this 98 minute film, every single scare follows the ultra uncreative quiet, quiet, quiet, LOUD, formula. About 20 minutes in, it becomes obvious that Leonetti is either just going through the motions or doing a rather poor job of plagiarizing much scarier films.
Final Thought: Much like the countless throw away, straight to DVD Disney animated sequels to come out of late the 90's and early 2000's (Pocahontas 2: Journey to a New World, The Little Mermaid 2: Return to the Sea, Cinderella 2: Dreams Come True") "Annabelle" (a prequel) is nothing more than a soulless money-grab from this particular production company, attempting to feed off the success of "The Conjuring". No mention of Ed and Lorraine Warren (real life paranormal investigators from "The Conjuring") no James Wan (the director of "The Conjuring") and not one doll-induced scare, all seemed to have a hand in making "Annabelle" a strikingly forgettable film. I mean, in "The Conjuring", the Annabelle doll is only used in all of three scenes, but due to some smart direction, those are some of the scariest potions of the movie. In "Annabelle", the titular doll is used throughout and it's not even a little bit creepy. What gives?
As a prequel and spin-off of The Conjuring 2013's highly effective
horror film Annabelle does what it promises, even if it does so one
jump and one jolt at a time. But that's all you get, jumpy scenes done
to perfection, with little or no atmosphere and a story that
disintegrates before it reaches a satisfying conclusion.
One of the most important aspects of The Conjuring and older sibling Insidious (both films directed by James Wan), is the cinematography and how it wreaks havoc with the viewer's peripheral vision. By this I am referring to events occurring off-center, or in some corner of the screen that is oblivious to on-screen characters but very obvious to the viewer. Consider a scene where a mother watches over her new born baby. The scene is shot in the living room where the right half of the frame is composed of the mother and her baby and the left half is a hallway that leads to other rooms in the house. Without shifting focus from the mother and child, we see something or someone lurking in the hallway behind; something that shouldn't be there in the first place. While this tactic is nothing new to horror-thrillers, it works for the whole purpose of inducing dread, thick and slow, before the actual jolt hits a few seconds later. The scariest scenes in Annabelle are made up of these moments, and at times we are left guessing what lurks in the corners. And is probably why cinematographer John R Leonetti of those preceding films is tasked with directorial duties in this film, while Wan himself is bumped up to producer. Leonetti plays it safe by treading down Wan's beaten path but without any surprises of his own.
Playing the aforementioned mother is Annabelle Wallis (freaky coincidence?) as Mia Gordon. Mia has a doll collection, one of which is the titular vintage doll gifted by her medical student husband John (Ward Horton). After surviving a horrific attack from a satanic cult, the Gordons have new guests that won't leave. At first Mia starts seeing things and becomes increasingly paralysed by fear while John begins to doubt her sanity. It's a stock approach to crying wolf in horror movies. It takes a while to dawn on them that something has latched on to Annabelle, making the doll a conduit with increasing intent on harming them and their new born baby. Consultations with a librarian and a priest reveal far greater implications, thus leaving these young parents to ward off hell by going right through it.
On one hand, the look and feel in this film is a copy-paste version of Insidious, but concentrated with sporadic moments of numbing fright. We've seen it before in classic horror films young parents who must literally go through hell to save their child's soul. It's the same concept here but effective enough for a low budget horror film. Like a stern disciple, Leonetti is on par with Wan's technical approach. Cinematography, hair raising sound design (including deliberate moments without sound), and some decent tension will garner a few screams from the audience, but that's about it. On the downside, there isn't much of a story for a script based on real events and don't even expect anything along the lines of an animated 'Çhucky' doll. It's not about what the doll can do but about what's in the doll -If only they had built on that frame of thought. After some well-timed jump scares in the first half, all we are left with is a murky conclusion owing to underwritten supporting cast members whose inclusion leaves the ending stale and cheap.
I'm a horror movie fan - I'm a fan of the original evil dead trilogy to
Romero to Poltergeist, korean horror, french horror etc... I'm also a
fan of the new wave of horror. I'm a fan of the Conjuring as it was a
film that made me think the art of a horror movie is back.
First off... this isn't made by James Wan... it's made by it's filmographer so off of the bat you're probably going to get some cool scenes but perhaps lack of character development. The budget of Annabelle is $5 million (that's 1/4 of what the Conjuring cost). Let me tell you the script is the weakest part of this film.
The movie starts off slow... this is where the film should really get you into the characters but there isn't much here, it's generic. It's the weakest part of the film. You have your standard couple... man goes to work, woman stays home and experiences weird stuff. The problem with this is that it's hard for you to bother to relate to the characters. This kind of kills the film for me. There were actually a lot that could have been explored but they didn't touch like the kids in the apartment.
Now the good. There is very little CGI - perhaps none. It's all old school. This is something that anyone could actually film.... chair moving, oven is on, someone standing there. It's good. It works. There's a great scene here with a baby. Are there enough scares? Not really. The pay off for the film felt like they might have fixed the movie for censors but even though the film is Rated R.
There's a lot missing in this film. It's not horrible. It's worth a rental. It's your average horror movie.
Okay folks. This not an Oscar film for sure. It is also not ground breaking by any means. Hell the only thing even remotely true about the film is the first maybe three minutes. This is every horror movie you have ever seen rolled into one. One minute you feel like your watching Rosemary's Baby. Then Rosemary is in the Amityville house. The next moment here comes Chucky with even a little Helter Skelter thrown into the mix. But everything I could say that is wrong with this film is exactly why it works. it embraces its cheese factor. Even revels in it at times. The film has some great scares and in a few cases some real interesting ones. It is just simply a lot of fun to watch with a lot of people. So much so, when Annabelle reveals herself fully you find yourself really into it. I thought the ending was weak but by the time you get to the end it would be very hard to raise the level suspense any higher. There is a scene with a sewing machine and Jiffy Pop which I think should go down in horror movie history for the right way to build suspense. It was funny listening to the audiences nervous giggles as something was about to happen. Go to this as entertainment and nothing more. Nothing deep here. Very little real here. It is based on a true story. However, based is a very loose word here. Three minutes is based upon a true story. Just good October fun.
Let me start off by stating that as a devout Horror fan with a special
liking to ghost stories, haunts and exorcisms, I have really enjoyed
The Conjuring. Therefore, my anticipation towards this pseudo- prequel
is to be understood, as well as my disappointment...
Perhaps it was the fact that James Wan was only an executive producer of this film that has made it wreak of mediocrity, especially compared to the first. Most of this film's component are exactly that: mediocre. The acting lacked the charisma and screen presence of Patrick Wilson (Ed Warren in The Conjuring), though I must say that Alfre Woodard (Evelyn) and Tony Amendola (Father Perez) were certain light spots. The story feels like it came out of an automated template machine given the basic "create me a mediocre haunting story" order, and again, compared to The Conjuring simply doesn't make the cut.
So why the slightly generous rating? For a few reasons:
1) Say what you will, that doll is one of the scariest, creepiest and most horrifying things I have ever seen both on screen and in life. Whoever created that doll's exterior should be either given a reward for being a genius or committed to a mental ward for being sick in the head (and I say that with the utmost respect, that doll is a work of art). Unlike The Conjuring, Annabelle gives the doll a lot more well deserved screen time.
2) The cinematography is at its best with the quick shots, giving the audience sometimes less than a second to realize what they're seeing. Showing demons, ghosts and such evil presences in that manner really adds to the fear factor in my opinion, for Hollywood is yet to realize how to portrait a demon that is scary for those of us who aren't religious Christians (and I say that with no disrespect whatsoever to Christians or Christianity). I like to use Insidious (another Wanderful masterpiece, if you haven't seen it stop reading RIGHT NOW and go see it) as an example - the one thing really lowering the film is the demon shown there. In Annabelle, demons are shown, but for a snap shot, leaving much to imagination which serves to add to the scare gauage.
3) Plot actually gets pretty intense towards the end, but only towards the end.
So all in all, perhaps had I watched this film before The Conjuring I would have been able to be more objective, but seeing as how I am unable to ignore it's shortcomings - I give it 6.5, meaning you should definitely watch it (especially if you liked The Conjuring) but you shouldn't expect it to meet The Conjuring's level.
About a minute into this film I squealed out of fear when they put the Annabelle doll into frame. I have a genuine fear of dolls like this. They freak me out. Therefore I was excited about this movie - I sincerely thought that there would finally be another movie out there that would manage to scare me (I have 3 in total so far). Sadly this is not the case. The movie was boring and predictable. The worst thing was that they have this terrifying creature-object-thing to make good use of and they failed miserably at using it. I'm genuinely disappointed at the reuse of the same old washed up horror storyline. How'd this script even get approved??! booo! I wish I wrote it so they could actually see what fear of a doll is haha.
I have watched many many scary movies, some good some bad, none truly scary. Anyone who reviewed this film as scary or awesome obviously has not seen the film. This is a complete snore-fest, from start to finish. I saw perhaps 3 "jump out of seat" scenes where it was totally predictable on it and was yawning each time. The conjuring was a terrific film, and this one is just trying to score big bucks off that name with 1/4 the budget. I was left feeling angry and cheated. There was no depth, no character relation, no story-line, nothing to get you even remotely into the film, except "saw the previews, this is gonna be so good !" feeling you saw when you watched the previews and couldn't wait for this to come out. A complete letdown in all aspects except the fact it actually ended and I could go do something else.
This film is hilariously bad. I brought it back for me and my girlfriend, and we watched it. This film really tried to pull off the 'omg-look-behind-you' and 'im-really-stupid-so-im-not-going-to-pick-up-that-gun'-type mentatily. I understand this is part of the Horror genre that i so love, but.. this is ridiculous to the point to making fun of you. Because of this, you will probably want to shut it off about 2/3 through, by that stage the shitness couldn't bring me to care about the already weak characters any more anyway, unfortunately. Started so well. What a shame.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Maybe not the most disturbing horror/demonic movie, but it's up there. I thought the story was substantial enough. The dots are connected as to how Annabelle became a conduit for a demon and how the person(s) who conjured up the demon were destroyed as a consequence of the actions that malevolent spirit drove them to. The corollary of the Manson/Tate/LaBianca murders were a nice touch and fit nicely into the chronology of the franchise. Effective use of imagery, movement, sound, and scoring to put viewers on the edge of their seat. I glanced over to my 19 year-old daughter who loves scary movies and found her sitting in a fetal position with hands poised to cover her eyes. My Christian peers would think I'm a horrible father for condoning such a movie by taking my daughter to see it...but theologically I found the content to be biblically accurate and that there certainly IS evil in the world. And I believe that evil was set loose in our world when humankind chose to mistrust God, and summon the power or purview of God's enemies.
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