Director: John R. Leonetti
Writer: Gary Dauberman
More Info:

IMDB’s Movie Summary: A couple begins to experience terrifying supernatural occurrences involving a vintage doll shortly after their home is invaded by satanic cultists.

My Thoughts: So Annabelle (2014) is the first (of many) prequel/spinoffs of 2013’s The Conjuring. It’s another horror film with a focus on possession and demons, except that this time, instead of a haunted house, the main spooky thing is an old, creepy doll. So what did I think of Annabelle? Did it live up to The Conjuring, or does it come off like a cheap, poorly written, poorly directed bore of a movie that feels like it was churned out by the studio to make more money off of The Conjuring’s success? Let’s dive into my thoughts on the movie and find out.

What I think worked: So right away, Tony Amendola gives a really good performance. He plays Father Perez, a priest at the church our main character go to. He doesn’t really show up all that often, but he’s always really good whenever he shows up. I also liked the score. It didn’t blow me away, or anything, but it was effective in helping to build tension every now and then. Finally, I really liked the design of Malthus—the demon who’s latched onto the Annabelle Doll. He’s this kinda twisted goat-man who’s genuinely kinda freaky to look at, and I think the movie does a good job following the general horror film rule that less is more. We get glimpses of him here and there, but we never really get more than a second or two to look at him, which really adds to his scare factor. Finally, there was one extremely well done sequence in the middle of the movie, that involved a basement, an elevator, and Malthus. It was easily the strongest scene in the movie, and genuinely had me holding onto the edge of my seat. So….that’s about it. Time to talk about why this movie fucking sucks.

What didn’t work for me: Did you notice how everything I praised in the above section — except for the score — was a specific part of the movie, and not a general category? Yeah, here’s why. So let’s start with the acting. It’s fucking dogshit. With the exception of Tony Amendola, as I’ve already mentioned, I don’t think there’s a single actor in this movie who pulls off a believable performance. And while this can be an issue in any genre, it’s especially problematic when it happens in a horror film, because if I don’t believe that the characters are scared, any scares that the movie attempts to throw my way will fall flat. It’s just that simple. The two main characters are played by Ward Horton and Annabelle Wallis, and they’re some of the least believable characters I’ve seen since ever seen in a movie. This is partly because neither of them do a very good job, but it’s also because their dialogue is atrocious. Now, Gary Dauberman has written the scripts for quite a few well-regarded horror films, such as 2017’s IT, but it also looks like Annabelle was the first real movie he worked on, so I can’t really say I’m too surprised that he was still figuring things out at this point.

The other really big thing that made Annabelle not work for me is that it’s fucking boring. I kid you not, after a short sequence near the beginning, nothing of note happens for, like, the next hour into the movie. It’s just closeup shots of the Annabelle doll’s face, and Horton and Wallis walking around attempting to look frightened or confused, and it’s just….mind-numbingly slow. However, I do think there’s a reason it is the way it is. You see, Annabelle really wishes it could be The Conjuring. It starts out with practically the same opening scene that The Conjuring had, it tries to be this slow burn horror flick where the tension slowly builds up to this insane crescendo before everything goes down in the second half of the movie. But it fails at building tension in basically every way that matters, and then has a laughably weak finale. Like, I’ve been trying to be somewhat tactful, but I’ll be honest, it’s just bad, and that’s all there really is to it.

Final Thoughts: Annabelle (2014) is an absolute train-wreck of a movie. It has bad acting, worse dialogue, and a stream of laughably weak scares. It’s boring as hell from beginning to end, and was a genuine chore to watch. Although it undeniably has a few redeeming moments here and there, they just aren’t enough to save this movie from being outright bad. I’m giving Annabelle a 3.5/10. What a fucking disappointment.

Written on 08/30/2021

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