Since I’m working entire weekends throughout October, I’m still figuring out a schedule so I can deliver reviews on time. Don’t worry, things won’t be so screwy next week. Although, I’ll probably just post what I’m writing really early in the morning anyway. In the meantime, please enjoy a review of the 2014 horror film, “Annabelle.”
Without further ado, the floor belongs to Bound Incubus (one of my friends, you may recognize him from a previous guest review.)
Note: The opinions in this review might not reflect my opinions on the film.
Film: Annabelle (2014) – Warner Bros. Pictures.
So I recently saw Annabelle, actually on the day it was released because I was very excited to see this movie. I’d seen The Conjuring in theaters and it was pretty scary and very few horror movies make me jump and yell, which it accomplished it very well. I had high expectations for Annabelle and I was not disappointed.
As advertised, this is a prequel somewhat to The Conjuring, which featured a small story before the main movie about the doll Annabelle that two nurses and their roommate had and were being terrorized by before Ed and Lorraine Warren took the doll into their posession. This movie takes place one year before the nurses obtain the doll and how Annabelle came to be. I’ll talk about the real story, and how it relates to the movie as well as discrepencies to give the full effect of the movie.
Backstory: Now for anyone that is familiar with the story, or is unaware, Annabelle is in fact a real doll, and stays locked in a case at Lorraine Warren’s home (Ed has since passed away). The true story of Annabelle actually involved an antique Raggedy Ann doll that was given to a woman named Donna, who lived with a roommate Angie, and another named Lou. Both Donna and Angie were nursing students at the time and these events took place in 1970 (though the movie says 1968 and the Annabelle movie is set in 1967). I won’t go into full details as the story can be found anywhere on google, but the gist of it is that these three were terrorized by the doll and at the time when they had spoken to a medium, had been told that it was a ghost named Annabelle that was haunting them saying she’d been killed and sought comfort with the women and wanted to be friends and that she was moving the doll around.
Being nursing students, they felt compassion and invited “Annabelle” to inhabit the doll. And that is when the trouble began. As in The Conjuring, they found the doll in different positions than they had left the doll, and found parchment paper (that no one in the apartment owned) with scrawled messages, and Lou had nightmares of being attacked by the doll and was physically attacked by an unseen entity. Ed and Lorraine Warren explained that it was a demon that was attached to the doll, using it as a conduit to manifest in the physical world to cause terror and fear, with the girls inviting the “girl” in, they unknowingly invited a demon into their lives. Soon afterwards, the doll was taken into custody and locked in a case, and still is to this day. Though a porcelain doll in the movie is definitely alot creepier than a Raggedy Ann doll that’s for sure!
Plot Synopsis (Minor Spoiler Alert!): Annabelle takes place with a young couple, Mia and John who live in Santa Monica. Mia is pregnant and expecting her baby any time, and John is going to school to be a doctor and live next door to their neighbors, the Higgins who are just as excited for Mia’s baby. it is briefly implied by Mrs. Higgins that her daughter is dead, but soon discussion reveals that two years earlier their daughter ran off to be a hippie. Despite this, they seem to have an idyllic life, even with reports of the world going to hell, or atleast at the time for the 60’s (Hippie movement, Vietnam, Charles Manson, cults, etc.). John gives Mia a present after a minor argument, being the doll as she collects dolls and this one being the final one to complete a set she’s been collecting.
Shortly after, their neighbors are brutally murdered in the dead of night, and the couple themselves barely survive being victims themselves. However, one of the murderers, a woman, slits her throat to avoid being caught, and as she dies, some of her blood drips onto the doll and seeps into its eye. It is revealed by the cops that the woman was Annabelle Higgins, the neighbors daughter and that she had gone into a cult and that the murders were an initiatian rite of some sort.
After this, things seem to settle, with minor events happening, and then escalating into a full on haunting and some other events that leaves Mia unwilling to have the baby at risk with something cursed in their home. They dispose of the doll and move to an apartment building in Pasadena. Things seem to be fine, before the doll Annabelle mysteriously appears, and begins terrorizing them again, primarily Mia who as usual for any horror movie husband/boyfriend, doesn’t believe her until he sees things for himself and the couple has to find a way to stop Annabelle. And this is where I will leave with the plot without giving too much of the movie away.
Review: I honestly thought this movie was good, to my knowledge there wasn’t a story for how the real Annabelle doll came to be or how a demon was attached to it, so this was a pretty interesting take and backstory. In terms of horror, I would definitely say this movie is creepy and I definitely say to watch this in theaters for a full effect. You begin to feel dread and anxiety just as Mia does when she’s alone or when night falls knowing that the doll is going to terrorize and not knowing what is coming next. There’s not alot of special effects, alot of the techniques used are pretty simple classic horror techniques and have some Hitchcock feel to them. When special effects are present, it is definitely used efficiently. There was quite a few times in the theater I jumped and was cringing waiting for the next scary thing to happen. Plus that doll is just really creepy…I don’t know why anyone would want it, but then again porcelain dolls in general are creepy.
There was quite a few “Oh shit!” moments, not just for fear but some psychological things, and alot of things that I’m sure a mother would find terrifying or fears for their child. There was one scene that actually did make me feel dread because I had never expected a movie to almost cross a line, but I will not spoil it, but I will say when it happened there was a collective gasp in the theater. The acting is pretty decent, but at times makes me think of old 60’s shows, but then I remember how people in that time frame were, and so period wise, it is pretty accurate to the attitudes and mentality of the time. I was disappointed that the Warrens did not make an appearance in this movie as they did in The Conjuring, however they are mentioned. There is a definite feeling of isolation, that captures it well and dread, and the supernatural element is blended pretty well and not overdone I felt, and when it is used, it is quite effective. Even when the movie was near the end you still felt like something was going to happen until the credits rolled.
My Overall Rating for this movie would be a 5/5 and a definite must see, and I plan to buy this when it’s released on DVD as well.