Review: Annabelle is as lifeless as its dolls

Annabelle has left the comfort of James Wan’s The Conjuring in the John Leonetti-directed spinoff that sees the doll haunt a couple who begin to experience terrifying supernatural occurrences shortly after their home is invaded by satanic cultists. The big question we all had when Annabelle was first announced was whether or not she could carry her own feature film. Sure, she’s creepy in The Conjuring, but a lot of that had to do with the fact that Wan used her sparingly, only allowing us to see her when it mattered most. Would Leonetti be able to pull off a similar effect? Not quite.

Annabelle does a good job of setting its story in motion as it offers a quick introduction to its characters before immediately throwing them into a horrifying situation. This, unfortunately, is the best thing Annabelle has to offer as it quickly becomes as lifeless as its dolls. With such a fantastic start—one that is spoiled in its entirety thanks to its first trailer—Leonetti somehow steers the rest of the film aimlessly, delivering nothing but dull, cliche-ridden scares.

But perhaps the most frustrating thing about Annabelle is that it completely throws away what few scares there are. Any tension built or lurking demon in the dark turns out to be a missed opportunity as Leonetti opts to deliver a jump scare rather than something creative. The film is a total mess in that regard.

Not once does it try to be inventive or push Annabelle’s story beyond what we already knew; it instead tries so hard to hold onto the appeal created by The Conjuring. It slowly jumps from one boring conversation to the next, only to fill the gaps with insentient scares that rely on loud noises and nothing more. It’s as by-the-numbers as a horror movie gets, so if you’re expecting something fresh and exciting, you won’t be finding it here.

My fear upon hearing the announcement of an Annabelle feature film was that the studio was just trying to cash in on The Conjuring‘s success, knowing that if they associate it with Annabelle that it was guaranteed to draw people to theaters. As much as I hate to say it, that’s exactly what this is. It’s a scareless affair that deserved so much more because believe it or not, there’s an interesting story within heart of Annabelle, one that should have been exploited with a terrifying narrative of demons and the innocent lives they hope to destroy. As much as Annabelle tries to be The Conjuring, it couldn’t be further from it.


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19 thoughts on “Review: Annabelle is as lifeless as its dolls

  1. Annabelle is absolutely capable of carrying its own feature, but the writer has to take time w/ the script and develop an intriguing story. Just like you said, they merely tried to cash-in on the success of “The Conjuring” and rushed the script and production. Very disappointing. Don’t they know we don’t mind waiting a little longer for quality? Sure, you may make some money at the box-office opening weekend, but once word-of-mouth spreads you will lose all the momentum and very few will bother with it after hearing the bad reviews. Had they simply waited and created a strong story it would have made money opening weekend AND gotten positive word-of-mouth prompting more and more to go see it. And if you created a strong story, you may even be able to make a sequel and make even more money. These studio execs are neanderthals.

    1. Agreed. It was such a disappointment because there was definitely a story in there that could have been really good. Even beyond that, though, the scares were nowhere to be found. Huge bummer.

      1. Yeah, I can imagine how lackluster the “scares” are.

        On another and more positive note, have you seen Denzel’s new film “The Equalizer”? It is totally bad-ass and very well-executed. The action sequences are put together nice and the script was written properly. Lots of violence and heart; something for everyone. I think you’ll like it. It’s similar as “Man on Fire” but is actually a lot more brutal. I loved Man on Fire, but I think I like this one a tad more. 🙂

      2. I’m always quick to see Denzel, too (except for “Two Guns” b/c it looked lame. lol). Denzel, Michael Shannon, Idris Elba, Mads Mikkelsen and Ryan Gosling are my top 5 fave actors. Definitely let me know what you think when you see “Equalizer”. You may never see “Home Depot” the same again! lol.

    2. Shouldn’t of used doll in this movie! Should of read book HOUSE OF DARKNESS HOUSE OF LIGHT, that’s what The Conjuring is based off of. Should of used doll in separate movie and used the real look alike Raggy Ann doll instead.

    1. Yeah it wasn’t scary in the slightest and perhaps I would have enjoyed it more had Leonetti done more with the creepier parts of the film.

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