Sometimes, prequel-spinoffs are just a cheap money grab. This is one of those cases
|Annabelle Wallis as
|Discount James Marsden (Ward Horton) as John Gordon|
|Gary Oldman as James Gordon…wait, wrong movie|
|Discount Whoopi Goldberg (Alfre Woodward) as Evelyn|
|with Master Bra’tac as Father Perez|
Sometimes, when you’re on to a good thing, you decide that you can make a spinoff or prequel. Sometimes, you do something that’s both, a prespinquel. Sometimes, the prespinquel is a good thing, but mostly, it just ends up being a cynical attempt to empty your wallet. Sadly, Annabelle is an example of a cynical money grab.
Anyone who saw the sort of decent horror movie The Conjuring will probably remember the creepy Annabelle doll that featured in the prologue and epilogue of that movie. Well, this movie acts as an introduction into the origins of the Annabelle doll itself. We fast rewind to the 1960s, when the young husband and wife Mia and John Gordon are expecting their first child. As a present, John gives Mia a new china doll, but that night, their neighbours are murdered in a ritual killing by their own daughter. The Gordons are nearly victims too, but are saved by the police.
Sadly, their neighbours’ daughter, Annabelle ends her life ritualistically too, and the new doll is possessed by something. It’s never clear what, because sometimes, it’s the angry and vengeful spirit of Annabelle, and sometimes its a demon. It’s probably more likely to be possesed by whatever the writers though was especially convenient at the time. Let’s call it the Plot Magic Daemon, causing the doll, which we will now call AnnaDoll, to have multiple personality disorder. Maybe that’s why it’s so evil? Despite repeated attempts at getting rid of the doll, it manages to mysteriously worm its way back into the Gordons’ life. Knowing now that the thing is haunted, the Gordons must somehow rid themselves of the evil thrust into their lives.
Look, I’d be the first to admit that I like a good horror movie. However, Annabelle doesn’t quite satisfy the conditions for a decent horror movie, let alone a good one. Firstly, there are too many cliches. The ritual killings, the summoning of evil spirit/being/ghost and then the subsequent haunting. Even worse is the frequent use of the heavy bass build up to potential jump scares. I say potential, because sometimes none eventuates, which is used to dramatic effect in terms of lulling you, the audience, into a false sense of security. Then WHAM, they hit you with something you don’t expect. Sadly, the scares in this movie are few and far between, relying on a more traditional story, than frightening the audience to any real degree.
Part of the problem also is that it is a slow movie, with uneven pacing. It takes some time to meet AnnaDoll, it takes quite a long time for poltegeisty things to happen, and it takes a while for the movie to end. In the middle, it’s like walking through waist high water, where you want it to go faster, to keep up the thrill and jump scares. But the writers sometimes let the pace drop to such a degree that there’s actually character development. It’s like watching a soap opera. Except there’s a demon lurking around.
The cast is, nominally there, but I think that the inaminate AnnaDoll has far more personality than the characters themselves. That creepy china doll face gives me the heeby jeebies. John Amendola is as contemplative and stiff-upper-lip as he was when he played Bra’tac in Stargate SG1, minus the massive staff gun, and your emotional involvement in the Gordons’ plight amounts to whether or not you think genetically blessed people should be spared the horrors of the devil. Finally, the moment you lay your eyes in Evelyn, played by Alfre Woodward, two things cross your mind. First, she’s going to solve all the movie’s problems. Second, you were on Desperate Housewives. There is no way I’ll take this movie seriously now…
So, Annabelle, a prespinquel of The Conjuring, is severely low budget and deprived of scares, missing a decent plot and a decent cast with faces that are not overly botoxed. Still, it’s kind of fun, and it seems like a horror movie that’s scary enough for a girl to cling to you on a first date, but mild enough that she won’t think you’re mad.
Check out the trailer
An entirely predictable horror movie with not enough scary stuff, which means it’s kind of creepy and not too much else.
Watch this if…
You’re on a date and you can’t stand sappy romantic movies. It’s a cheap thrill.
Don’t watch this if…
You’re sick of James Wan jump scare movies that have no logical plot. Or characters who stand there looking bemused while danger lurks.