Review: Annabelle fails to deliver
Before The Conjuring, there was ANNABELLE, says the movie’s tagline, which tells us that what we’re being presented with is a prequel to the enthusiastically received 2013 American supernatural horror flick.
The story, for what it’s worth, sees John Gordon (Ward Horton) finding a gift for both his pregnant wife Mia (Annabelle Wallis) and their unborn child; Annabelle, a rare vintage doll in a pure white wedding dress. Now, here is the first stumbling block. This doll is fucking hideous. What the hell was John Gordon thinking buying this for his heavily preggo wife? Just that creepy grin and too-close-together eyes could have made the poor woman miscarry. When Mia opens the box and reveals the doll, there was a roar of laughter around the screening room as the camera focused on its weird face. “It’s beautiful,” Mia swoons. “WHAT? Are you short-sighted or just a mentalist?” the audience thinks, as one. Still, whatever. Different strokes for different folks and all that, and Annabelle indeed takes pride of place in the new nursery.
One night, their home is invaded by members of a satanic cult, who violently attack John and Mia. Spilled blood and terror are not all they leave behind though. Oh no. The cultists have… you know… conjured an entity, as you do, which finds its way into the already shit-scary-looking Annabelle. John and Mia, although they don’t yet know it, are fucked.
And so are the audience, because what follows is a selection of cliched scare-tactics and tired imagery, as the demon hunts around for a soul with the fervour of someone who’s just walked in to Top Shop to discover there is a 70% sale on. This fucker just won’t give up and poor old Mia is forced into playing the hackneyed “terrified helpless woman” tripping over, dropping her torch, screaming lots, etc.
Mia is typical of all of the movie’s one-dimensional characters. It’s hard to care about them at all. And while Annabelle is the least appealing-looking doll on this earth, the fact that she just sits there getting slightly greener as the film goes on makes her pretty dull, and the umpteen tracking shots focusing on her weird face can’t change that.
The thing I took away from Annabelle is that when the Priest takes a photo of Mia and the baby, he holds the camera landscape style but when he gives her the picture, it is in portrait format. And if a horror film engages you to such a minuscule extent that you end up thinking about minor continuity errors, you know it hasn’t even come close to doing its job.
Review by Bobby Townsend.