October 3, 2014

Movie Review: Annabelle

Last year James Wan brought us The Conjuring, a fantastic old school ghost story that did not tell of anything new, but it was executed fantastically. There is something about the way that he is able to execute the familiar that is amazing. It is not easy to pull of legitimately good mainstream horror, but he does it. The runaway success of the film pretty much assured we would get more from that universe. After all, it was based on the experiences of Ed and Lorraine Warren, and they have stories to tell. One of those tales was teased in The Conjuring, the creepy doll named Annabelle is back in a movie of the same name.

Annabelle tells the story of a seriously creepy doll said to be possessed by a woman named Annabelle who was a member of a Satanic cult and committed suicide. It is also the story of Mia (Annabelle Wallis) and John (Wad Horton), a happily married couple eagerly anticipating the arrival of their first child. The glue holding the story together is the titular doll and things get kicked off when John brings his wife a gift. You guessed it, the gift was the doll. It seems that Mia is big on doll collecting and has decorated their impending child's room with an entire collection of the creepy things.

No sooner has that doll entered the house that some creepy stuff starts to happen. At first it just seems to be creaks and stuff, but then there is a murder next door and the happy couple find themselves attacked by Annabelle and her boyfriend. It does not end well and the couple get up and move into an apartment. The creepy things continue to happen and it becomes apparent that something is after Mia's baby. Whatever it is that has attached itself to the doll will prove to be a little difficult.

I have to admit, I did not much care for this movie. It just seemed to drag along, and while it seems to have been executed pretty well, I just did not get into it. To be sure, there is some creepiness and requisite jump scares in the latter portions of the film, but I never felt fully invovled. I was not quite sure what it was supposed to be, was it the devil? A demon? Annabelle? I don't know, nothing was ever all that clear. On top of that, the movie felt like it needed an appearance from the Warrens (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga in The Conjuring).

Something else that stumbled through my brain as I watched the movie, it does not seem like anyone is willing to go that extra mile and get straight up weird. I mean that. So many horror films I watch from decades past played by their own rules and, for better or worse, went to some really weird places. I think Insidious did a decent job of throwing in the weird, but some of these other films, like Annabelle, could go further down that rabbit hole. Don't be afraid to get a little weird.

Getting back on track, Annabelle just struck me as dull and never really grabbed hold of me. I did not feel the characters were well enough explained or explored. Although, I think Annabelle Wallis did a fine job of handling the weight of the lead role. I just wish everything else was stronger around it.

Not Recommended.

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