Review: Annabelle

annabelle

Content Warning: intense sequences of disturbing violence and terror

As most of you probably already know, Annabelle is the much anticipated sequel to last year’s ultra successful horror flick The Conjuring. The Conjuring opened with the brief story of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren’s case on the Annabelle doll that a couple of young nurses received as a present. Annabelle takes that brief story and expands on it by showing how the Annabelle doll became possessed and terrorized a young couple.

As a big fan of horror movies, and having seen The Conjuring, I was beyond excited to see Annabelle. When viewing horror movies, I like to see a powerful opening act that grabs you right away, as well as a suspenseful final act. Regrettably, Annabelle has neither of those. It starts out by introducing the young couple–your typical, young, horror-movie couple–the semi-clueless husband and the blond wife that everything seems to happen to. Nothing original there.  It moves on to them getting attacked by a couple members of a cult, and in some way one of them possesses the Annabelle doll, which then begins to terrorize them. It then throws a ton of scares into the middle and builds to a somewhat forgettable ending. However, the biggest quality that made this movie stand out to me was that it wasn’t predictable. Now, as I said earlier, I am a big fan of horror movies, and I can usually predict them pretty well… but not this one. Its scares are unique and unexpected and will take you off guard; it’s a genuine, jump-scare horror movie.

The cast of Annabelle features a lot of faces I didn’t recognize, but also has a few stand-out stars. Annabelle Wallis (no pun intended; X-Men: First Class, Body of Lies) plays the wife, Mia. Her performance was varying to me. One minute she was a poor actress, and the next I could have seen her getting an Oscar nomination. I look forward to seeing more of her in hopes that her skills will develop. Ward Horton (The Wolf of Wall Street) plays husband, John, and gives a very forgettable performance. At no point in the movie did he ever do anything to get my attention. Tony Amendola (The Mask of Zorro, Blow) plays Father Perez and turns in the best performance in this film. He may not be the most sympathetic to everything that is happening to John and Mia, but there is just something about him that makes him loveable. He has the best lines and brings a warm feeling to the movie. Finally, Alfe Woodard (Primal Fear, K-Pax) plays next-door neighbor and book store owner, Evelyn, who tries to help the couple. Alfe is an A-list actress and someone who can turn in fantastic performances in movies; this was not one of them, as she turns in perhaps the worst performance in the film. I have never seen such wooden acting from such a talented person.

John R. Leonetti (The Butterfly Effect 2, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation) helms this movie and brings his first big-budget film to the silver screen. I haven’t seen any of his other works, but I am impressed with his first big film. I look forward to seeing what else he brings out in the future.

And, finally, the score of the film (which is the same as The Conjuring) is phenomenal–heart-pounding in the few suspenseful parts and loud in the jumpy parts. It reminded me of the old 80’s horror movies and is a fantastic addition to the film.

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Erik Daniel

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