Movie Review: Annabelle

Fun fact: the movie is based off a doll paranormal investigatiors Ed and Lorraine Warren have holed up behind a glass case in their museum. People who've visited the museum and taunted the doll (which is really a Raggedy-Ann-like doll) have all allegedly been involved in nearly fatal accidents. (konbini.com)

Fun fact: the movie is based off a doll paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren have holed up behind a glass case in their museum. People who’ve visited the museum and taunted the doll have all allegedly been involved in nearly fatal accidents. (konbini.com)

Loosely based on true events, Annabelle tells the story of a husband (Ward Horton) and wife (Annabelle Wallis) who add a special doll to their collection in time for the birth of their new child. They get a lot more than they bargained for, however, when the doll becomes possessed after the couple suffers an attempted murder at the hands of their neighbours’ daughter.

Story and Writing

Horror movies have had difficulty (as of recent) finding success in developing a good story with solid writing. While director James Wan (Saw) is known for optioning pretty strong writers, I’m sorry to say writer Gary Dauberman didn’t cut it this time around, implementing standard scares from other movies. It was a little too formulaic for my liking, so if you’re looking for a traditional scare fest with typical jumps and jolts, you could probably sit through this movie. What I did laugh at, however, were the amount of bad choices the characters made. It is a horror movie, though…and bad decisions generally lead to bad outcomes for our horror heroes.

Acting

Mia (Annabelle Wallis) came across as sweet and unassuming at the start of the movie, but morphed into a mother lion. Her character development was fairly impressive, and was not bad for a fresh face. I have to give her credit for coming off a Television period set (The Tudors) and being able to play a seventies’ character. Ward Horton was as stiff as a board but came across as the take-it-all-for-granted father character I think James Wan was going for. The star of the movie? Alfre Woodard. She had her part as the kindly wise lady down, and her emotional scenes were impressive.

Visuals, Producing and Editing

The special effects were not too bad. I did like some of the scenes where they played with lighting and sequencing. Some of the shots and panning or tracking used to heighten suspense were solid. I have to applaud the shooters for making me think the doll was going to actually do something in some scenes, like lunge at the camera or roll its eyes. I personally liked the look of the doll, though the original alleged possessed doll also creeps me out. I couldn’t find any fault in the sequencing or editing, and would say the story transitions were solid.

The alleged original Annabelle doll, now under lock and key at the Warrens' museum. (worldmediafiles.com)

The alleged original Annabelle doll, now under lock and key at the Warrens’ museum. (worldmediafiles.com)

Overall

I’d say this was a fairly predictable film, and much of the fault came from its writing. It was barely entertaining, and it didn’t give us anything new in the field of horror. Maybe that wasn’t the intent, but I guess if you’re looking for something interesting to watch in time for Halloween, you could give this movie a try. If you’ve seen The Conjuring, then you’ve seen this. Generally, I’m not sold, and I probably wouldn’t go for a repeat showing. I give this movie five dusty antique dolls out of ten.

Still mulling it over? Here’s the trailer:

Ria Renouf is an Associate Editor for BCIT's Link Magazine. A second-year Broadcasting student, she'll report on anything; her first loves, however, are movies, music, gaming and technology. Outside of BCIT she reads many books and cheers for the Vancouver Canucks and Seattle Seahawks. She also aspires to be a new generation's Tintin, and does so by reporting for radio station CKNW News Talk 980AM's news desk.

ria@linkbcit.ca