Entertainment Magazine

Annabelle: Starring Annabelle!

Posted on the 20 November 2014 by Haricharanpudipeddi @pudiharicharan

From the producers of the enjoyable retro take on horror ‘The Conjuring’ comes a prequel that looks very promising in its promos – ‘Annabelle’. Titular doll having been featured as capable of moving itself on a whim while fixating everyone with a disturbing grin in ‘The Conjuring’, this movie goes into a little more detail about who puppets it about and how it came to be.

I for one can list about three scenes where my heart jumped to my mouth, but the deficiency of scares is not what makes the movie dangerously close to being mediocre. Director John R Leonetti works on a script by Gary Dauberman that tries hard to make us sit down and take notice of how Annabelle became Annabelle-ish in the first place. The cast headed by Annabelle(yes, it looks coincidental, just normal not demonic) Wallis and Ward Horton play retro American couple Mia and John who are expecting a baby. Tony Amendola and Alfre Woodard round out the main cast playing the Forms’ priest and neighbor respectively.

The first half hour keeps us interested by mixing in the Manson murders and the advent of the cult-culture in America. Cue expectant mother and a truly disturbing intrusion after the introduction of Annabelle the doll as a gift from her doting husband. Sound, scene and character set up, even dialog proved to be elements that worked well in ‘The Conjuring’. Strangely all those successful elements do not fully feature in Annabelle. A tracking shot to reveal previously unnoticed elements from the backdrop works well in horror but when a left to right pan is all we see in every scare inducing scene even the most non technical among us will feel the stirrings of a yawn. One other haunting question (if you’ll pardon the pun) that you might leave the theater with is what happened to the graffiti kids?

Negativity aside, ‘Annabelle’ proves again that the classics can never go wrong by borrowing elements from ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ and from pulp Satanic horror movies where the devils hand in dealing with deceit features as a plot element. A scene in a storage vault in the basement is probably one of the best implementation of a haunting in a long while. Talking about which plot elements are never really developed to a serious end. Ominous cartoon warnings, neighborly noises, the role of the Church, the curious vulnerability of Church entrances – none of these things are provided enough screen time or a proper explanation as to why it did or did not work. Mia is almost thrust into a nervous mother with postpartum problems before things take a devilish turn leading to the climax.

What leaves us exiting the theater with the lingering afterthought of why couldnt this movie have worked is the fact that there is scope for ‘Annabelle’ to have been a horror classic. Call it the writers reluctance to make this doll dance to its full evil potential or a reworking the movie could have sunk its teeth a little more into dark territory instead of stopping at sewing machine and popcorn tricks.Curious about where else it has worked well? I would suggest ‘Angel Heart’ and ‘Rosemarys Baby’ for a satisfying and disturbing horror kick.

Two and a half stars

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