Movie Review: Annabelle
“When you see it, you’ll shit bricks.” Ever see one of those photo online? They look like a regular photo for a while, then you look closer, and you squint, then you look from the corner of your eye, and you see it. Blended into the darkness underneath the doorway something is staring back at you, something you never wanted to notice in the first place. So you saw it, and you shat bricks. This sensation is ever-present in Annabelle. Dark, eye catching, cleverly terrifying. The movie conjures emotions eerily reminiscent of another flick, The Conjuring. Though the two films go hand in hand, no part of Annabelle seems like a rehashing of its sister film. The scares are refreshing, if sometimes predictable, but that almost seems to be the point of the movie, the viewer is constantly aware that something awful is about to happen but is then scared senseless regardless.
The film follows Mia and John (played by Annabelle Wallis and Ward Horton respectively), a typical suburban couple who are attacked in their own home by a group of cultists; one of which appears to have committed suicide while clutching a benign Annabelle doll that john had previously given to Mia as a heartfelt gift. Soon after the doll begins to act. Now debatably malign, Annabelle’s presence becomes very noticeable and downright strange. She’s sometimes found in a different position than left, or in an entirely different location altogether.
The Annabelle doll itself effectively becomes an entity entirely of its own and, rather impressively, is the most emotional character throughout the story. Although completely motionless while on screen (unless otherwise manipulated), the doll periodically has short clips of just sitting somewhere, lying on the floor, resting on the shelf, in which she seems very much alive. Staring at the doll in the background of a scene causes a very unsettling and unavoidable trepidation. Although the design of the doll isn’t particularly believable, and sometimes even distracting from the rest of the film, it works well enough to embody the terror it’s supposed to inflict on Mia and John.
Typical of director John Leonetti, the protagonists seem transparent, almost intentionally so. They don’t keep much from each other or the audience and leave very little to the imagination, making their interactions so disinteresting that by the time you realize your bored you’re not prepared for whatever was lingering in the background, and at that point its too late, you’ve already soiled yourself. Although the characters weren’t much to watch, Wallis and Horton delivered interesting weight to their roles. Wallis particularly excelled at interacting with a myriad of inanimate objects without letting the viewer doubt Mia’s fright for a fraction of a moment. Ward effectively portrayed John as a loving husband who could just as easily have been a misogynistic pile of filth, but that could just be this viewers interpretation.
All in all the film blends genres of horror well. Theres just enough gore for any slasher addicts to be pleased and the suspense will leave all but the edge of your seat cool from vacancy. Though there’s much to be desired from the actors, the script also seems to provide little to work with. However the film works well independently regardless; although it might not be a cinematic masterpiece it is still effectively a terrifying experience and that’s all you can really hope for in the horror genre these days. At the end of the day it is still just another terrifying movie about white people and the demons that possess them.