12 years after the tragic death of their little girl, a dollmaker and his wife welcome a nun and several girls from a shuttered orphanage into their home, where they soon become the target of the dollmaker's possessed creation, Annabelle.
A prequel set before the haunting of the Lambert family that reveals how gifted psychic Elise Rainier reluctantly agrees to use her ability to contact the dead in order to help a teenage girl who has been targeted by a dangerous supernatural entity.
A priest with a haunted past and a novice on the threshold of her final vows are sent by the Vatican to investigate the death of a young nun in Romania and confront a malevolent force in the form of a demonic nun.
John Form has found the perfect gift for his expectant wife, Mia - a beautiful, rare vintage doll in a pure white wedding dress. But Mia's delight with Annabelle doesn't last long. On one horrific night, their home is invaded by members of a satanic cult, who violently attack the couple. Spilled blood and terror are not all they leave behind. The cultists have conjured an entity so malevolent that nothing they did will compare to the sinister conduit to the damned that is now... Annabelle.Written by
Comparing to The Conjuring makes this feel like a disappointment. Still worth watching!
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 components 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 that excellent film's level 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.
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