Film Review: Annabelle


I confess, dolls scare the freaking Jesus out of me. I don’t know if it’s some hidden childhood trauma of being eaten by a porcelain doll when I was a foetus or having my mind curdled by a clown at my twelfth birthday (neither of which happened, by the way), the glass doll eyes that stare at you in the dark and the apparently inanimate postures is high octane stuff of nightmares for me.

Which is why I chose to watch Annabelle, because of the freakish doll on the front – the same reason I watched Dead Silence (which by the way is one horrific doll fest, and I will review that in the future.)

Confession: I only managed about thirty-five minutes of the ninety in this film, so I can only comment on what I’ve seen. Much as I would love to make an accurate assessment of the scariness of this, it was not possible – read to the end to find out why.

This film is meant to be a prequel to The Conjuring, which I have seen and it fell squarely into the box of “overhyped disappointing bore” – again, a review for another day.  Nevertheless, in my quest to find the ultimate scare fest, I watched Annabelle. The film spent the start settling the watchers into the lives of John and Mia, a happily married couple. An initial thrilling two minutes depicted two cultists rushing into their home and nearly killing the two of them and the unborn baby, and Annabelle suffers some brutal infected bodily liquid into her eyeball. But most of that unsettling feeling is forgotten as the watchers get to know the couple. In fact, the film spent so much effort into settling its readers into the daily lives of this mundane couple that the first thirty minutes is inundated with them rubbing Mia’s pregnant belly, walking around, talking about their excitement, watching television, and finally giving birth to the bloody thing. It feels a lot like Paranormal Activities in that it was obviously a low budget film. All you need is a house and about three actors.

Which reminds me… what genre is this? I almost thought I’d stumbled into someone’s camcorder recording their first child arriving into the world. It’s a bit like telling someone your dreams: you’re fascinated by it – and nobody else cares.

My horror highlight was seeing that prepared baby room full of those satanic dolls all staring and grinning in the darkness. The cultists weren’t scary. Miaherself is bloody scary. Who in their right mind would fill a room full of these horrors?

By the time I see Mia and John moving to a new place and getting ready to go out, I’m bored to tears. I wanted to watch a film of horror. Don’t get me wrong, one needs a story and atmosphere, and tension and feels for the characters, and a sort of desperation that’s meant to build up the further the story goes wrong and these characters are still so very clueless, but there is nothing. It’s a depiction of the mundane life, thrown in by a few horrified faces and some knives.  There is no pacing. The horror parts are over and done with quickly and the rest of the film (that I’ve seen) filled in with boring real life. There is no chemistry between Mia and John and their lines are dry. There is no tension, no hint that this is a horror and things are about to go so very wrong.

And I’m a third of the way through the film, for crying out loud. It’s not like I watched the first five minutes and decided this. If I’m nearly halfway through and still bored to tears – and it also took me three attempts to get so far! I don’t even have ADHD – what’s there to keep me watching the rest?

Nothing. Which is why I’m writing this without finishing a film.

I can’t believe this film got so much hype. Even Insidious and The Purge was (slightly) better than this.

Verdict: 0 stars. Driest horror I’ve seen in a long time.

What are your thoughts?


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