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John’s Horror Corner: Annabelle (2014), an incompetently made evil doll movie and a MAJOR disappointment to this MAJOR fan of The Conjuring

November 6, 2014

      NENfqI5WroSXRS_1_1 MY CALL:  I think evil doll movies practically make themselves. But this is an absolutely incompetent horror film that should disappoint fans of the genre whether they were birthed in the era of serious slashers, classic Hammer releases, or campy 80s slapstick gorefests. The only way this made it to the big screen was by riding the tidal wave of hype created by its link to The Conjuring. I feel genuinely cheated!  MOVIES TO WATCH INSTEAD of Annabelle: There are really soooo many wiser choices you can make for your scare-tastic Saturday night.  Maybe Dead Silence (2007), Dolls (1987), Poltergeist (1982) or The Conjuring (2013).

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Let’s start with a little disclaimer here. I absolutely adored The Conjuring (2013)!  I viewed it as an instant classic which also stylistically paid kind homage to the classics while maintaining a more contemporary intensity.  So when I heard they were making a movie about the creepy doll introduced to us in the Warrens’ cursed menagerie, I was giddy like a school girl.

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The story is very simple. A young soon-to-be doctor gets his pregnant wife a gift, an antique style doll for her collection.  She adores it.  After some random cultists randomly choose their home to invade the police dispatch the murderous satanic cultist assailants, the blood of a dying cultist coming in contact with the Annabelle doll and presumably completing some ritual opening a gateway for some other-worldly demonic spirit to possess the doll and use it as a conduit on its soul-procuring mission.

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From here, we learn the particulars about the cultists, demons and how a soul must be “offered” to them. And then we watch as the twisted, possessed doll manipulates our young family (specifically the mother) in order to get what it wants.  Is it the young couple’s new born child?

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At this point I feel the need to say that there are a lot of positive reviews out there about this movie.  THIS IS NOT ONE OF THEM.

I won’t spoil anything, but the movie itself left a spoiled taste in my mouth. I was impressed by nothing, affected by nothing more than cheap jump scares and blaring sound effects, and utterly bored by a story whose end I couldn’t see coming largely because of the disconnected randomness of the events that were meant to build urgency.  Creaky chairs and slamming doors can be scary, and creepy dolls can really make a horror movie work all by themselves, but the mood just wasn’t developed to maturity for me.

Was the doll creepy? TOTALLY…perhaps even in an over-the-top way.  I mean, that doll—would anyone actually make a doll that looked that evil even before it got possessed and dirtied up?  Those cheek bones and thin eyebrows felt reminiscent of the Wicked Witch.  But the doll’s creepiness and a few jump scares are all the good I have to say about this.  The Warrens were mentioned once, but we got nothing more than that little tease of something better…and that something better never came to my aid.

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Instead of the Warrens I got mysterious baby carriages in ultra-creepy basements with no explanations.

Some may say it’s not fair to compare Annabelle to The Conjuring.  But I’d respond with the fact that the entire advertising campaign was designed around linking the two movies by the very tagline: “Before The Conjuring, there was Annabelle.”  More like “Before The Conjuring there were lame horror stories that weren’t told well.” The only way this made it to the big screen was by riding the tidal wave of hype created by its link to The Conjuring. I feel genuinely cheated!

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Things seldom work out well for the good-intentioned priests in these movies.

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Let’s talk about what The Conjuring had that Annabelle did not: a director who had proven himself in horror, experienced writers, and an absolutely legit cast.  What does Annabelle have?  Director John R. Leonetti, whose biggest prior accomplishments were The Butterfly Effect 2 and Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (if we’re considering these “accomplishments” at all), led the project.  He worked with the foundation of an inexperienced writer and an almost completely unrecognizable cast offering forgettable performances and a stale story.  The only thing that haunted me about Annabelle was all of the promising hype that got me to waste my money on it.

In my perhaps overly critical eyes, this is an absolutely incompetent horror that should disappoint fans of the genre whether they were birthed in the era of serious slashers, classic Hammer releases, or campy 80s slapstick gorefests.

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13 Comments leave one →
  1. November 10, 2014 10:46 am

    I love this line “More like “Before The Conjuring there were lame horror stories that weren’t told well.”

    • johnleavengood permalink
      November 10, 2014 5:21 pm

      That’s one of my more polite opinions of the film.

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  7. John’s Horror Corner: The Boy (2016), a pleasantly entertaining evil doll movie with a ridiculous premise, an awkwardly eerie atmosphere and a straight-faced delivery. | Movies, Films & Flix
  8. John’s Horror Corner: Lights Out (2016), Mama meets the Babadook as we watch Wan’s new vengeful ghost. | Movies, Films & Flix
  9. John’s Horror Corner: The Mummy (2017), Tom Cruise’s first step into the Dark Universe of Hammer monsters. | Movies, Films & Flix
  10. John’s Horror Corner: The Devil’s Candy (2015), an atmospheric style-over-substance film about evil, music and art. | Movies, Films & Flix
  11. John’s Horror Corner: Annabelle: Creation (2017), super creepy, super jumpy, super evil, and a fine addition to The Conjuring Universe. | Movies, Films & Flix

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