Annabelle Review


Halloween is vast approaching, and with it a slew of a cannily-scheduled scary movies. Queue a cinematic splatterfest full of sequels, remakes and thinly veiled derivations.

And spin-offs, of course.

Annabelle is a spin-off of 2013 spookfest The Conjuring, which I have admittedly not seen.

I have however seen many of the Japanese-inspired supernatural horror films which have hit the big screen in the last decade.

Annabelle is one such movie. But instead of a possessed video cassette, or a possessed child, or even a possessed mirror, the film deals with a possessed doll.

We are introduced to Mia and John Form, a thumb-wrestling, church-going, all-American, young married couple.

It’s the seventies: she sews, he works, a baby is on the way and all is good with the world.

Apart from the ominous mention of satanic, Manson-type cults that is.

Following a marital tiff, John gives his wife an implausibly creepy gift in the form of a child-size doll. Or maybe not so implausible when you consider that grown-woman Mia implausibly collects dolls as a hobby.

One night, the Forms are attacked in their home by murderous loonies of the aforementioned cult variety.

The attack is interrupted by the police, who later advise that the culprits had been trying to summon a demonic entity but failed.

Or did they?

In the following weeks, creepy stuff happens, seemingly connected to the new doll. Doors slam. Rocking chairs creak. Popcorn pops itself. The usual.

Following a disturbing, fire-related incident in the house, Mia tells John that she cannot face raising a child there and the couple move house with a fresh start in mind.

But the doll goes with them and has other plans….

This film is a spin-off, and sure feels like one. The no-name cast is headed up by the Forms, who are a bit too apple-pie to really identity with.

Annabelle Wallis does what she can with the scream-queen role, highlighting the pressures that demonic possession can have on being a stay-at-home mum.

Old-hands Tony Amendola and Alfre Woodward are on hand to bolster the central performances, he as a sage priest and she as a kindly neighbour, one with a convenient insight on the occult.

As scary films go, producer James Wan’s assured touch ensures that the scares are there, and suspense are paranoia often expertly played with.

Two moments stand out in particular: the opening cult attack and a later moment of frankly horrifying doll-bashing.

You’ll see.

The Manson family references both add to the era and strengthen the underlying satanic references.

And the doll is suitably creepy, becoming more and more tarnished as the evil grows. It lacks the presence of, say, Childsplay’s walking and talking Chucky, but still gets under your skin.

In short, not a game changer in horror cinema, but if you’re a fan of the supernatural sub-genre, and of people and objects being suddenly thrown around the room by unseen forces, then this film should suitably tingle your spine.

Conor Brennan

Leave A Comment

Dates ‘n stuff

October 2014