† H a p p y H a l l o w e e n †
The month of Halloween has already begun, but as I haven’t had time to explore any recent horror flicks until now, I haven’t been able to do my traditional horror month for, well, the entirety of the month. Be that as it may, I still have time left to provide you with some horror reviews, and I’d say the movie Annabelle is a perfect stinker to start with.
Annabelle, in case you haven’t heard, is a spin-off of The Conjuring, this time focusing more on the spooky doll that only showed up briefly in the first film. Let me guess, this one’s also “based on a true story”? Why of course it is. Ah, how I love hearing those words in that order when people are talking about ghost movies, or films about possessed toys in this case. You just know you’ve got documentary-level realism ahead of you.
Set in 1969, young couple John and Mia Gordon (played by Ward Horto and, spookily, Annabelle Wallis) are awaiting the birth of their first child and are making preparations accordingly, setting up a baby bedroom and the suchwise. For some inconceivable reason they choose to decorate the baby’s room with a wide assortment of creepy dolls, as if that’s somehow the key ingredient of a non-traumatic childhood. The eponymous Annabelle happens to be one of these dolls, but she isn’t given her name until later on. You’ll see why in a bit.
It doesn’t take long until bizarre things begin to occur around the doll, such as two violent criminals attempting to steal it from the Gordons, only for the police to arrive and kill one of them as the other kills herself. These two criminals are revealed to be the Gordons’ neighbours; a man who remains unnamed, and a woman named Annabelle Higgins, whose dark and satanic background is revealed in a news report about her demise in the Gordon household. Mia and John are of course led to think that the doll is involved with these grim events and decide to get rid of it. Guess if it makes its way back to them to haunt them some more even after they move to a new home and have the baby? Of course it does, and seeking help from a friendly librarian (Alfre Woodard) and even a priest (Tony Amendola) doesn’t do much to save the Gordons from the demonic forces that surround the doll, now known as “Annabelle”.
Did I mention that the Annabelle doll that people in real life try to pass off as “possessed” looks nothing like the one they use in the movies? Just thought I’d mention that on the note of how authentic this movie supposedly is.
I don’t particularly see the point in attempting to pass off superstitious ghost stories as truth. There are three ways in which you can claim that a supernatural horror film is based on real events and be right about it. The first way is to make a biography about some fella who thought he saw ghosts everywhere, but was actually just stark raving mad and a danger to society. The second way is to make a movie about someone who suffers from frequent night terrors and sleep paralysis. The third way is to make a spooky documentary about the effects of infrasound, and no, I don’t care if they claimed on MythBusters that infrasound doesn’t work that way because they’re the same people who decided that a ninja can’t catch a flying arrow just because it didn’t work on the first try.
The “real” Annabelle doll can be seen in Ed and Lorraine Warren‘s museum and people will still try to tell you it’s pure evil. I don’t find it very scary, nor was I very scared by the version in the film. Credibility-issues aside, this film still has disappointingly little to offer, especially as I honestly found The Conjuring to be a genuinely effective horror film. Annabelle is instead more of a typical horror movie, with all the lazy jump scares, screeching loud music, and third-rate performances you’d expect. There’s also some blood and weird symbols because blood and weird symbols are scary.
As for Annabelle herself, I do enjoy her off-putting design but she mostly just sits around and looks unsettling. If you’re gonna take the liberty to change the look of her from a Raggedy Ann doll into a large porcelain figure, why not go ahead and make her do more freaky things as well? Who knows?
The only point of this movie is to frighten the people that most usually go to see horror films nowadays – annoying teenagers that will rival Bianca Castafiore’s glass-breaking screams over something as trivial as a spider on the floor. It’s all cheap scares, cheap horror clichés, and cheap gimmicks that people somehow still fall for. Our only hope is that these movies stop taking themselves seriously and turn Annabelle into the next big serial killer franchise. I can see it front of me now: Conjuring X – Annabelle vs. Chucky.