HTS Moderator , Reviewer
HTS Overall Score:83
Some of you may remember Annabelle as being the little doll in the glass case in the fantastic horror movie “The Conjuring” a couple years ago. I don’t think anyone really expected Annabelle to get a spinoff from “The Conjuring”, even though most people thought that the doll was one of the cooler artifacts in Ed and Lorraine Warren’s little room of supernatural trophies. Fast forward a couple of years and here we are, with a brand new spinoff story. Now, don’t go into this one with the expectation that it will feel similar to “The Conjuring”, as the film is a much different animal. About the only things similar to the original movie is the doll itself, and that opening scene that the two movies share together where Ed and Lorraine interviewed the two girls who owned the doll before they confiscated it.
Before Annabelle became a supernatural conduit for demons, it was originally just a pretty little doll that was purchased by a loving husband for his pregnant wife’s doll collection. Josh Gordon (Ward Horton) and his lovely wife Mia (Annabelle Wallis) are living happily in their little house together expecting their first child together while Josh puts himself through medical residency. Things change for the worse when Josh brings Mia a gift in the form of a doll that she’s missing from her collection. Within days of the innocent purchase, Mia and Josh’s next door neighbors are brutally murdered by their estranged daughter and boyfriend who then turn their attention on Mia’s house (and the doll in particular). It seems that their neighbor’s daughter was involved in a cult that was practicing an occult ritual the night they went on their bloody rampage. Imparting some of that evil into the doll on the shelf though a drop of the dying daughter’s blood.
Terrified of the experience, and feeling their house violated, the couple move to the city and form a new life together in a crowded apartment. Much to their despair, the experience moves with them as the doll magically appears in the moving boxes after Josh had thrown it away in the trash back at the house. At first it just seems like a moving mix-up, but soon more unexplained mysteries start happening around the house. Sewing machines turn on randomly in the middle of the night, doors start slamming, and Mia starts seeing apparitions. Terrified, Mia turns to her local Catholic priest, father Perez (Tony Amendola), for help in dealing with the evil spirit infused in the doll. However, things turn drastically worse when father Perez is not up to the task of loosening the demon’s hold on the doll and the couple finds their own daughter the target of said evil. Now they have to make a decision, whose soul must perish for their daughter’s to live?
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=36985[/img]I loved “The Conjuring” as it was one of the better supernatural horror movies that I’d seen in 2013. It was a movie that didn’t really need a spinoff but someone managed to acquire one. After viewing them both back to back, it’s obvious which one is the better crafted film, but I still had quite a bit of fun with “Annabelle” in its own right. My first recommendation is to not go into “Annabelle” expecting something similar to “The Conjuring” but rather think of it as its own movie. “Annabelle” stars the doll from the first movie, but other than that there really is no connection.
The plot is fairly derivative and seen a dozen times in supernatural horror movies, but not much can be done about that considering how many movies have dealt with evil spirits over the decades. There’s only so much a movie can do to be considered fresh after that many years of picking over the bones. The movie tends to rely a LOT on jump scares, you know, the kind of scares that are wrought from startling moments rather than anything horrifying or gruesome. While I’m not usually a fan of jump scares, I thought that director John Leonetti did a solid job at making them VERY effective. The scene with the little girl apparition bull rushing the mother in the apartment comes to mind as well as the diving out of the curtains scene. My heart leaped into my throat a dozen times during the film due to those little moments. The ambiance of the feel just spelled out creepy and the heavy throbbing score was PERFECT for keeping the mood tense and freaky.
The bad points of the film come in the writing, and the rehashing common horror tropes. We have the standard Catholic priest, the older woman who knows more than she says she does, jump scares (both a positive and a negative in the film) etc etc. The ending itself wasn’t anything spectacular for a horror movie, but it worked decently well (though some of the religious “hopes” in the ending made me chuckle a bit as it kind of goes against the Catholic philosophy of the afterlife) considering the rest of the buildup.
Rated R for intense sequences of disturbing violence and terror
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=36993[/img]“Annabelle” is given a striking video encode on the Blu-ray, filled with lots of strong blacks well defined features on the characters. The movie is absolutely covered in dark areas where the blacks have plenty of room to shine, and shine they do. Crush and smearing are completely absent from those scenes and you can see all the fine detail you could possibly want. When the apparition comes at her in the apartment underground you can see everything, even amidst the murky shadow. Fine detail in the light sequences are just as fantastic and leaving nothing for your imagination to fill in the blanks. Sharp as a tack and brightly lit, they look simply amazing. Colors tend to be on the warm side, even in the darkness, and while it has a LITTLE bit of that vintage 70’s look that “The Conjuring” had, it tends to look a bit more modern than I expected.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=37001[/img]Holy aggressive soundtrack Batman! A good soundtrack for a horror movie is paramount and “Annabelle” delivers that in spades. The track is one of those rip roaring tracks that likes to scare the living tar out of you with throbbing LFE that makes a slamming door feel like it was made out of pure steel from weight behind it, and constantly keeps the auditory pressure on you with that pulsing of LFE in the background of the movie. The detail level in the movie is incredible as you can hear the pitter pattering of ghostly feet along the wooden floors, shifting from one direction to the next as it changes channels and I was really impressed to actually hear the double latch of a door click into place with such fine precision early on in the movie. Dialogue is firmly locked up in the front center, and well balanced with the rest of the track. Dynamic range is impressively large as a whispering spectral voice tickles your ears for a moment before a resounding thump or crash explodes inside your living room causing the viewer to have to climb down from the ceiling whence he leaped to. A+.
• The Curse of Annabelle
• Bloody Tears of Possession
• Dolls of the Demon
• A Demonic Process
• Deleted Scenes
“Annabelle” promised to be like “The Conjuring” and upon comparing them I can see why people were a bit disappointed by it theatrically. However as a standalone film, it’s a FUN (although not great) little horror flick that can be seen as a standalone movie. It has a creepy atmosphere, great technical specs on the disc itself and even some decent extras. I’d have to say that if you’re a horror fan it will make a good movie night, just remember to leave your comparisons to “The Conjuring” at the door or you may leave disappointed.
Starring: Annabelle Wallis, Ward Horton, Tony Amendola
Directed By: John R. Leonetti
Written By: Gary Dauberman
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 AVC
Audio: ENGLISH: DTS-HD MA 5.1, Spanish, French DD 5.1
Studio: Warner Brothers
Runtime: 99 Minutes
Own “Annabelle” on Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD, and Digital HD on January 20th
Buy Annabelle On Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Give it a Watch
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