Director: John R. Leonetti
Annabelle has to be one of the funniest films, I’ve seen all year. Too bad it’s not supposed to be a comedy. Aww, le sigh. I was pulling for you Annabelle, I really was. Annabelle is the first prequel to last year’s horror film, The Conjuring, which tells the story of Loraine and Ed Warren.
The Warren’s were a ghost busting couple, who housed many objects from their adventures inside their home. One of the items is the porcelain doll, known as Annabelle. The doll is prominent in The Conjuring, and she is creepy as hell, if any object needs an explanation of their backstory Annabelle is certainty it. However, as hard as this film tries the doll became less creepy, and almost comedic. She is in fact, reminiscent of Chucky in his later incarnations. Bride of Chucky anyone? But, don’t get me wrong, Annabelle is entertaining as hell, and fun and it still has its creepy moments, but scary it is not.
When we first see Annabelle the doll, we are treated to a scene meant to remind of us of how the doll arrives to the Warrens. Although it’s brief, you are sucked into remembering how fucked up the little doll is in that film. Think about it Annabelle provides some fantastic creepiness, signaling some bad shit is about to go down in The Conjuring. In Annabelle we learn the why and how, that little dollie is so pissed.
The film takes place in 1969 or early 1970 in Los Angeles, the Manson Family murders is mentioned on a local newscast, which sets up for the how Annabelle came to be. A young couple, expecting their first baby becomes the victims to a home invasion by a demented hippy duo in the vein of Charles Manson and the Family, much like drugged out miscreants who commited the Sharon Tate/LaBianca murders. During this incident the Annabelle doll becomes possessed by the female villain. Let the party begin!
After this the house becomes a death trap, because Annabelle torments the couple, even setting the house on fire at one point. We are treated to scenes of typical haunted house stuff, doors open and close on their own, appliances run on their own and the normal poltergeist-y shenanigans ensue. All of these things are perfectly “horror”, but they are also trite and tired. We even get a demon-Priest showdown, I won’t spoil that for you, but I will say, “Poor Father.” Now, I don’t want you to think it’s not worth a watch, because believe me it is, it’s good. If you are a fan of James Wan, which I am, you will enjoy this film. James didn’t direct this, but he produced it and it shows. Which brings me to another question, James, what’s up with you and the dolls, dude?
Also, hat tips to the actors (Annabelle Wallis as the human wife, btw), because they sell this, best they could. I did want to smack the husband (Ward Horton), but he plays to type with the supernatural element, considering his character is a doctor (a man of science), he does not believe. Would you? I heart Alfre Woodard, but I’m unsure why she’s in this honestly. Her character is endearing as hell, but a bit wasted on this actress, she’s a little too good for this part.
Annabelle is in theaters now. See it!