Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Film Review: Annabelle (2014)

Annabelle (Review)
United States/2014
Format Viewed For Review: HBO Now
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"Fans of the Blumhouse brand of horror may enjoy this one most."

After their home is invaded by cultists, a couple begin to experience supernatural events that threaten their well-being...

Annabelle follows Mia (Annabelle Wallis) and John Form (Ward Harton) in the late 60s. Mia is pregnant and eagerly waiting to give birth while John prepares for life after medical school. Anyway, after a small argument, John gives Mia a vintage doll, which she accepts with glee. Later, their house is invaded by satanic cultists, including a Annabelle Higgins, who kills herself beside the vintage doll. From there on, the story becomes a bit more run-of-the-mill. Mia, who spends most of her time alone with her daughter, is haunted by a presence surrounding the doll. The doll gets stronger and stronger with each passing day. The church gets involved and... Well, you get the gist. It all leads to a predictable ending.

I didn't hate Annabelle. In fact, I was entertained throughout most of the film. Sure, the narrative is familiar and the ending isn't very good, but most of the film was fun. I know 'fun' isn't exactly the best word to explain a horror film, but that's what it was: fun. The film is paced well, there is some moderate suspense here and there, and there are a few creative jump scares. (Some of the jump-scares would be even better if studios stopped ruining them in their trailers.) Annabelle, of course, offers some creepy imagery as well. It might not be as unnerving as The Conjuring or as exciting as Insidious, but Annabelle is a decent little spin-off.

Annabelle Wallis offers a decent performance as the leading lady. She tends to overact when the scenes become demanding, though. Her performance and dialogue felt unnatural during the climax. Ward Harton was also good, but he doesn't get much screen time. He wasn't bad, though. The film is shot well and the music was good. Annabelle is written by Gary Dauberman and directed by John R. Leonetti. I liked some of the writing early on, especially the inclusion of cultists, but it does stray into familiar territory without taking many chances. The characters are also generic – another couple with a baby suffering from the paranormal. The direction is good, offering a nice balance between suspense and jump-scares and creating a decent flow for the film.

Overall, Annabelle is a decent horror film. There are some issues with the story, especially towards the end, but it was ultimately interesting and entertaining. It won't give me any nightmares, but it offered some suspense and a few exciting jump-scares. Fans of the Blumhouse brand of horror may enjoy this one most.

Score: 6/10
Parental Guide: Some violence and blood.

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