There’s a trend I’ve noticed with Hollywood in 2014: if a title of a film is simply a female name, then the end product is trash. First we had “Tammy”, then “Lucy” and now “Annabelle”.
A prequel/spin-off/rip-off of “The Conjuring”, “Annabelle” tells the tale of how the creepy little doll became possessed in the first place, and how it torments the lives of a married couple and their newborn baby. The couple is played by Ward Horton and Annabelle Wallis (crazy first name, right?!) and the film is directed by John R. Leonetti.
I wasn’t the biggest “Conjuring” fan. I appreciated its production value and acting but I just didn’t find the film very scary. And like I said in my review, a horror film that isn’t scary is like a comedy without any laughs; it failed at its objective. That being said, if “Annabelle” was intended to be a horror film, then it botched even harder than “Conjuring” ever could have hoped to.
Nothing in this film works. Let’s start with the acting. It’s as wooden as the rocking chair that the Annabelle doll sits in the entire film. The actor’s deliveries are off and their emotions are non-existent. As my one friend brilliantly said to me, “you know you’re in trouble when the doll is the best actor in the movie.”
The script is just as awful as the acting. The plot makes no sense and puts no effort into explaining how Annabelle actually comes possessed, and it takes until the final scene to tell us why the demon is after the family. The dialogue is equally as dreadful. Like I’m perplexed as to how some of these scenes made it into the finished product. At one point the husband says “ha ha it’s true; everyone HATES her grandmother”. Like, in the most awkward tone possible. And nearly completely out of context to the conversation. That would mean the director had to have looked at that take and said, “Perfect! Cut. Print.”
Speaking of direction, Leonetti does nothing special here at all. All my issues with “Conjuring” aside, director James Wan (who produced “Annabelle”) knew how to build tension in a scene using practical effects (his mistake was never having much of the tension boil over and lead anywhere). Leonetti lingers on actors faces for too long and stares at a still Annabelle for extended durations. There were a couple interesting camera tricks he employs, such as showing a little girl running past an open door only to have her turn into a full-grown woman upon entering, but I think if you had simply put a camera on a tripod it would have done a more engaging job.
All of this could be forgiven if the film was scary, or even interesting, but “Annabelle” is neither. It is boring and uneventful, and by using all no-name actors to ensure the budget was as low as possible it’s not even like we have a big-name star to hold our hand (I would pay good money to see Nicolas Cage scream and throw the Annabelle doll).
I can go on and on bashing “Annabelle”, but then I would be just hurting my brain more than this film did by itself. It is a lazily constructed and awfully executed horror film that should be condemned alongside the demons that control its title character. The silver lining about nearing the end of this review is I will never have to revisit this film ever again. Well, except when I write my Year’s Worst Films list in December. Or until they milk yet another sequel out of this already dried up franchise and I have to relive it all over again…
Critics Rating: 3/10