Annabelle was not the horror movie I was expecting. I thought it was going to be a Chucky/Child’s Play possessed doll horror where the actual toy did the killing, haunting and scaring but instead, the movie is much more in the ilk of a “possessed by a demon” tale.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it is just that this has been done a lot lately, by the same people who have made this movie. Insidious (both parts) and The Conjuring, offer very similar themes, ideas and in some cases, moments as Annabelle does, making this movie feel like a missed opportunity.
It doesn’t start that way. The film opens with a great “origin” story for how the doll becomes evil and the first act, where the doll begins it’s terrorising in more subtle and slower ways, is creepy. It helps that the doll itself is frightening to look at anyway and some of the most effective scenes in the whole film are just when the camera focuses, motionless, on the doll itself.
When the movie has finished introducing the origins, the story becomes much more generic. There are some great set-pieces, one involving an elevator being a particular highlight, but more than anything else, it is a standard, jump-scare horror movie, with little substance or originality.
It doesn’t help that the characters offer very little that is new either. A new mother, a busy husband, a kindly neighbour and an elderly priest, all seem like go to cast for any possessed house/child/doll movie of the last five years.
The movie doesn’t feel like it builds to anything either. You get a lot of busy moments, where a lot happens, with jump scares, noisy bangs and screams and above all, menacing music, but in the end you are left with little more than just noise. The actual ending of the movie feels much more a whimper than a bang, particularly compared to the Conjuring, which inspired this film.
Above all, Annabelle took the one strength it had, the creepy doll, and placed it in the background. This movie is not about the doll and the horrors that it can inflict but about something much more ordinary and generic; demons, souls and possessions.
Overall, Annabelle offers very little that you won’t have seen before. It has the same standard horror movie cast, the same types of jump scares and a very poor, uninspired ending. It begins very strongly, with great promise, and shows something new in places, but never really delivers the scary film you think you should get.
Rating – 2.5