Last year, I saw and reviewed a film called "The Conjuring" and I loved it. I loved the movie because it took a classic formula and breathed new life into it. It was a near-perfect example of creepy atmosphere and incredibly trembling mood. It had great actors taking their characters seriously and placed behind a wonderfully eerie soundtrack. "The Conjuring" worked because it did exactly what it wanted to do, it didn't hold anything back and it didn't become something it wasn't. Even though we have seen countless haunted house movies, "The Conjuring" looked like an original.
I wish I could say the same thing about "Annabelle," which is supposed to take place in the same universe of "The Conjuring."
"Annabelle" is a miss in nearly every category. For one reason, it doesn't feel original, it feels like pieces of thousands of other horror movies. The musical scores in the film sound exactly like the music from the "Insidious" movies. The moments with the doll feel like they are from the Talking Tina episode of "Twilight Zone." There are moments that will remind you of "The Ring," "Suspiria" and "The Shining." What results is that "Annabelle" feels like an anthology of many other horror movies, but it never becomes its own movie. When the movie is working overtime to hit a bunch of stale horror queues, it is hard to really sit back and enjoy the movie.
The next big issue I had with the movie was it didn't match the mood and atmosphere that made "The Conjuring" such a great horror movie. Sure, I understand that variety is key in Hollywood, I understand that not each film in a series needs to be similar, but this just feels like it wants to be similar to "The Conjuring," but it ends up short. There is nothing moody about "Annabelle," there is nothing atmospheric about "Annabelle." The scares in "Annabelle" are cliché, they feel forced, they don't feel genuine in any form. That also makes the film a hard one to sit through.
The film revolves around John Form (Ward Horton) and Mia Form (Annabelle Walliss, haha I wonder how she got the part) who are expecting their first child. To prepare for the child, John buys a doll for their child. As you could probably imagine, John buys the creepiest doll he could find. As you could probably imagine, as Mia stays home to look after the baby, strange things start happening in the house, always while John is away. "Annabelle" is a giant familiar-fest. You can probably guess that John will eventually believe his wife. You can probably imagine that they will get a priest, and that there will be a big, supernatural finish. I could have been okay with a film that has covered familiar ground, happens all the time in this genre. But I just wish there was a little more heart and soul in this movie. I wish it created an undeniable mood that would have me shaken for weeks. There is a lot I wished with this film and "Annabelle" works to make sure this is a routine visit.
I don't know what I can say about "Annabelle" without sounding like a broken record. All I can say is that if you enjoyed "The Conjuring," you'll probably be bitterly disappointed by "Annabelle." If you want to have a good scare as Halloween comes up quick, you'll be bitterly disappointed. If you are for some reason looking for an engaging storyline with this movie, yeah you're not going to get it. "Annabelle" made me sad all around, and this could have been something.
FINAL GRADE: F