Written by Gurmeet Kapoor
What to Expect
There’s a scene in Annabelle when the protagonist sews while the jiffy pop slowly explodes. Sewing Machine, Zoom. Jiffy Pop, Zoom. Sewing Machine, Zoom, Jiffy pop, Zoom.
And then – without warning – BOOM.
I still look at my finger, days after watching the film, to see if my finger is cut.
Directed by John Leonetti, cinematographer of many enjoyable horror movies (like The Conjuring, of which Annabelle is a spin-off), such “tricks of the eye” are expected. For this reason alone, I’d have expected (read wanted) him to make a film filled with chills and scares. But alas, they are really few and far between in the film.
What’s it About?
A pregnant Mia Gordon (Annabelle Wallis; X-Men: First Class) is presented a doll as a gift by her husband, John (Ward Horton; I Hate Valentine’s Day).
The doll, as one can easily figure, is conjured by a satanic cult. Annabelle Higgins – the daughter of the Gordons’ neighbors – as it turns out, is part of the said cult. Eventually she murders her parents, who also happen to be a part of the Church.
This event starts off a torrid time for the young couple especially considering they are expecting (and later on taking care of) a young baby, Lea.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Here’s the thing with Annabelle; it had so much potential to be a truly horrific watch. Not to say that my expectations of the film were sky-high, but it’s just that the scares in the film were really generic and – on top of that – quite rare. I mean, how many times does one watch such films as The Exorcist or The Shining and still creep out at little Regan stabbing herself with the cross or when Danny writes REDRUM inside the bathroom with blood?
It’s, however, not just the fault of the scares; it’s most definitely the flat screenwriting too. There’s little room left to actually feel bad for the characters of the film. There’s so much more to be explored in the story to give it more depth. At an otherwise crisp runtime of 99 minutes, I’m sure the movie could have added much more to give it that sense of uniqueness. For example, why did Annabelle Higgins murder her parents? Or why, later on in the film, does the bookstore owner feel an exceeding amount of eerie guilt towards her daughter’s accidental death? Makes the viewer wonder; was she in on it the whole time? Is she part of the same cult? So much of the film is left unexplored and it leaves the viewer flooding with questions by the end of it all.
This is not specifically to say that Annabelle is by any means a bad film. The scares are definitely there. But it’s just left at that: scare one: check; move on to scare two.
The film has some standout technical filmmaking. The production design is top-notch. The film’s given a convincing early 70s atmosphere and the setting. The cinematography, coupled with the editing is what builds upon the scares written into the film. Leonetti uses his experience as a cinematographer really well in this case.
To Perform or Not to Perform?
Now with horror films, acting is probably one of the most important aspects. It’s probably a fault of the screenwriting, but Wallis and Horton’s characters are just plain. It’s hard to feel for characters that can’t really connect to each other on an emotional, let alone intimate, level. There are so many times Horton’s John tells his wife he loves and supports her, but not once can we actually tell that he REALLY does. Individually, there are several moments when both actors do shine, although they’re few and far in between.
If you are looking for an out-and-out horror film that has a great story with a ridiculously haunting aftertaste, then this is not the right movie to watch. If, however, you’re looking for a good time over the weekend, then the movie might be of some use.
Star Rating: 2 / 5
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