Cert: 15 / 99 mins / Dir. John R. Leonetti
You're absolutely right of course, how much was I really going to get out of a spinoff from The Conjuring where the only star to reprise their role is completely inanimate?
Annabelle manages to take a batshit-crazy subplot from one of the most mechanical horror flicks I've ever seen, and fleshes it out into just over an hour and a half of tedious bumping, thumping and shrieking. Complete with a naive young couple (one gullible, one skeptical), grizzled local priest, wise old occult expert with a hidden yet sad past, satanic-cult subplot, plinky-plonk children's mobile, electric hob which switches itself on, record player that not only switches itself on but also moves the needle onto the disc, low-paid actor in a mask and a leotard pretending to be a demon, low-paid actress in a nightshirt covered in blood and dark hair over her face, and the kind of overtly creepy doll that no-one - NO-ONE - would give houseroom to… there's nothing remotely new, scary or indeed interesting here…
Funny however, yes. I did break the Code Of Conduct™ and chuckle audibly at several moments; when the dialogue or the acting delivering it sunk below its reliably shoddy level, or when the audience is reminded (repeatedly) that the film is connected with The Conjuring. Oh, and the bit when the doll 'stands up'. That one's an absolute howler. I can see how this would have looked passable on paper, and I can't lay the blame at the feet of the cast or the director, but Annabelle just fails to work on every level it needs to as a horror film (I wasn't alone, snorting in the auditorium). Even the usual 'quiet… quiet… LOUD' moments, evoking a purely physical response rather than a psychological one, have little effect when they sporadically appear.
Credit where its due, there are two great shots in the film. The first is the little girl running at the door (as in the trailer), and the second one involves a demon crouching, quite still, in a darkened stairwell. It's perhaps telling that the film only succeeds when it's either going full-belt or doing as little as possible, because everything else in the film occupies a middle-ground of lazy writing and half-arsed performances. There's a point, at about thirty minutes in, where you think 'Well, in order for the Annabelle doll to have the formidable reputation it's got in The Conjuring (which only takes place a year later), surely no-one's going to be left alive at the end of this film?'.
I have never been so disappointed at a happy ending, frankly.
You know you're in trouble when the best thing about a movie is the snigger travelling around the room when a UK audience sees a second-long shot of L.A.'s Gaylord Apartments.
Yes, I sniggered, too. Me mordere.
The trailer's actually slightly better than the film, but only just.
Well, I laughed.
Judging by the audience in Screen 1 tonight, not even close.
The film will be ineffectual no matter how/where you see it.
I don't think I have to answer that question.
I don't think I have to answer that one, either.
Really, though? Really? Do we get another spinoff about The Cult Of The Ram, next?
• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
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