Demonic Doll Fails to Scare Up Thrills
John Form has found the perfect gift for his expectant wife, Mia — a beautiful, rare vintage doll in a pure white wedding dress. But Mia’s delight with Annabelle doesn’t last long. On one horrific night, their home is invaded by members of a satanic cult, who violently attack the couple. Spilled blood and terror are not all they leave behind. The cultists have conjured an entity so malevolent that nothing they did will compare to the sinister conduit to the damned that is now … Annabelle.
Annabelle is a prequel to director James Wan’s (he’s a producer on this one) 2013 hit The Conjuring and the possessed porcelain doll in both movies.
This time, the movie tells the story of Annabelle, and how the creepy doll came to be possessed. The film starts with the nurses, whose apartment the doll was terrorizing in The Conjuring, telling their story presumably to paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, but Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, who played the Warrens in the first film, don’t return for this one.
Director John R. Leonetti takes us back to the early 1960s, where we meet medical-school student John Form (Ward Horton) and his wife Mia (Annabelle Wallis), a young couple expecting a baby. John surprises Mia with the doll she’s been looking for to complete her collection and it’s Annabelle.
The doll is just as horrible looking before it gets all beat up. Why anyone would want Annabelle or any of the creepy dolls in their home is anyone’s guess, but Mia is delighted.
Earlier, while watching the news, Mia sees a report of the Manson family murders. That night, the next door neighbors’ estranged daughter who has run off to join a cut, breaks into her parents’ house with her boyfriend and kills her parents. While John attends to the neighbors, the daughter and her boyfriend somehow get in the expecting couple’s house. While the boyfriend attacks Mia, the woman enters the nursery and pics up Annabelle. The male attacker is killed by police, and the woman slits her own throat while holding the doll, spilling her blood on it.
Soon weird and dangerous things start happening – the sewing machine starts running in the middle of the night, the stereo comes on, the stove turns on and a pan of Jiffy Pop popcorn explodes, starting a fire. Mia gives birth to a daughter and eventually the couple moves into an apartment to flee the strange happenings in the house, even though John put Annabelle out with the trash.
While unpacking, Mia finds Annabelle in a box and puts her back on the baby’s shelf. Whatever evil was plaguing them in their old house only gets worse and John suggests going to their priest (Tony Amendola) for help; Mia confides in Evelyn (Alfre Woodard), who owns a bookstore down the street with a large occult section.
How many heels does it get?
While the doll helped frame The Conjuring, it plays a major role in Annabelle. But while the original was based on the true-life story of paranormal researchers Ed and Lorraine Warren, this one is pure fiction from screenwriter Gary Dauberman who throws in a demon. Annabelle is a real doll — although a large Raggedy Ann in real life — that is locked up in an occult museum in Connecticut owned by the Warrens and visited only by a priest who blesses her twice a month. But where The Conjuring took classic horror conventions and made them fresh and exciting, Annabelle is a predictable collage of frights that are less about atmosphere and don’t evolve organically from the story. Rated R. Opens Oct. 3, 2014.
My rating: 3 out of 5 Heels
Editor-in-Chief Mark Heckathorn is a journalist, movie buff and foodie. He oversees DC on Heels editorial operations as well as strategic planning and staff development. Reach him with story ideas or suggestions at dcoheditor (at) gmail (dot) com.