Halloween Quickies: ANNABELLE (2014)

October rocks man. And there's no way in hell I'm not writing about horror flicks this month! I've yet to find time to crank out a full review, but until then, I'll try to post a quick blurb about a Halloween-ish horror movie every day. I finally got out to the theater to check out the latest demonic *yawn* possession movie in the style of James Wan...what a treat.

Taking place in the 1960's this time, Annabelle follows a young married couple who come close to being killed by some nutty hippie Satanists...but the nightmare isn't over, as one of the cultists has transferred her evil spirit into the wife's prized doll, and it's brought a demon that's craving some souls. Or one in particular...and it certainly couldn't be the soul of their unborn child, could it?

Okay, I don't hate Annabelle nearly as much as you might be thinking right now. Full disclosure, I haven't even seen The Conjuring yet, so any references to it made here went way over my head. But I doubt seeing it would've made this any better, since this movie was the poster child of generic, modern demon possession's clearly been made to cash a quick buck off the success of Wan's spookshow last year, and I don't hesitate to say this is the lamest killer doll movie ever. Mainly because it's not a killer doll movie when it really should have been.

Start with what I liked. The opening. Great stuff. The two Satanists attacking the couple's neighbors, then breaching their house, I'm not going to lie, freaked me right out of my seat. It's something I haven't really seen before: a slasher-esque scenario filmed in the style of a haunted house possession movie...and oh dear god does it work. It utilizes the sixities setting well (Manson cults were a common fear), throws some great gore in, builds amazing suspense without too many jump scares (though the first one used is superb), and is really goddamn creepy! I want the director to do a cult movie set in the sixties in the same style as this opening scene! And there is one scene towards the end of the film that actually started to disturb me and make me commend the movie for having balls but copped out. 

But once the demon stuff kicks in...forget everything I just said and just try to stay awake. The Annabelle doll is really only used for a) obnoxiously long close-ups or b) to be found by a character in a position they didn't put it in. That's right: the Annabelle doll never even moved during this whole movie. I kept praying for at least her eyes to move and look at a character, but about a drinking game where everytime a lingering close-up actually pays off in a scare, you take a shot. You'll be stone-sober in no time!

The acting isn't that great, the dialogue is really annoying, the priest character (who I actually enjoyed onscreen) didn't even do much, the demon looked boring and unoriginal, and the doll doesn't do anything. The cinematography's pretty good though. Nice job, DP. But it does have enough jump scares to slightly recommend a viewing with a lot of friends around Halloween who are willing to scream at just about everything. Other than that, Annabelle, to me, is nothing but a disappointing film brimming with the potential to bring back the killer doll movie, but then deciding killer dolls are for sissies. Sigh.

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