It’s Thursday night and you know what that means. Yes, it’s time for another movie review. The month of Halloween begins with a blockbuster kicker, with the first horror movie of the season, Annabelle. With James Wan pulling out of the director chair, his legacy has been left open for other directors to take over. Well open season is over, for the infamous doll of the Conjuring has now got a movie of her own. Can Wan’s big shoes be filled, or has the train of good horror movies run out of steam, leaving us again with Hollywood knock offs.
Let’s get down to the question you want answered. Is Annabelle scary? Well for this reviewer the answer is… kind of. Like it’s predecessor, this movie is a combination of jump out at you scares and creepy, paranormal activity. Blended together in decent harmony, audience members will get a nice variety of ways to make you squirm in your chair, and possibly scream. For this reviewer, the creepier aspects involved objects turning on randomly, or the random trail of pictures dropped by a devious shadow. Such random acts seem silly, but it’s the subtle play of light, a thing you catch off to the side that really penetrates your core. We’ve all been spooked by something in the corner of our eye and this movie plays on it.
Like Wan, director John R. Leonetti also is not afraid to have his monsters come out during the day. Yes, no manner of light can keep the creatures at bay, again removing a barrier that we normally turn too. Yet this movie takes it one step further and takes the creature out of the residence. Most movies keep the spirit isolated to one area, but Annabelle’s wrath escapes out into the open, following our heroine and her cohorts around. This may not affect some, but for a few latecomers to the theater, they were not happy to lose that comfort. Such alterations in haunting strategies is what the horror world has needed, giving it a little extra kick to the scare factor that many films in this genre have been lacking.
Of course the creepiest thing in this movie is none other than the doll herself. As I mentioned a year ago, Annabelle has the design that will chill just about anyone to the bones. In this movie we are given an exponential increase in that factor, the seemingly innocent doll being scarier than the thing tied with it. Her cold lifeless stare has a menacing glare to it behind those, pristine blue eyes. The charismatic grin holding a comfortable welcome laced with malice and evil and all of it is wrapped in a porcelain white package. What adds a little more scariness to it, is seeing the doll wind up in the strangest places. As the trailers state, it starts with a simple change in poster, but gradually turns to her ending up in the weirdest places that will make you cautious in your own room. Throw in the fact that her features morph over the course of the film, eventually into movement and well you get some factors that might have you screaming “Oh snap!” into the air.
With all these factors you might think this movie is the scariest thing I’ve seen. Unfortunately that is not the case. The first reason is a big one, the trailers have shown you most of the scary scenes. That’s right, a majority of the jump out at you moments and creepy happenings have been laid out for you in all their details. Sure there is a little editing to cover things up, and you haven’t heard the spine tingling music that adds a little spice, but you’ll see most of the moments coming. A second factor to the lack of scariness is that once again the camera foreshadows when things are going to jump out at you. The cessation of motion, the sudden quietness, they are still the classic factors to give away the “surprise” they had planned. Finally the third factor is the actual denizen that is using the doll. For the last year we’ve wondered what invisible tormentor was behind Annabelle, and in this film it is revealed. While the revelation was incredibly creepy, the actual look of the beast paled in creepiness to the doll. Yeah, the make up and special effects are good, and it’s hiding in the shadows helps add a little edge, but one can see the aspects that inspired it’s creation.
What else does Annabelle have to offer? Well the story is not that bad, for writer Dauberman has done a nice job tying in character development with the horror aspect of it. However, the plot of this genre has lost the ability to be unique, and we have seen this tale told in previous movies, though the ending is halfway decent. As for the acting, they did a good job for this film with Annabelle Wallis being the main star of the show. Wallis does a great job playing the wife driven to the point of delusion, balancing her expected screams and whimpers with a decent dialogue. She impressed me even more with her delivery of her lines, the wavering voice a nice touch to emphasize the terror she faced.
Annabelle is a decent prequel filled with the elements that made The Conjuring the ride it was. While the movie has been ruined by the trailers, this reviewer would say to give this a shot. Again, it’s not the best installment I’ve seen, but it provides a good opening for the month of horror. My scores for this movie are:
Movie Overall: 6.0