REVIEW — “Annabelle”
It’s easier when you can say “It’s just a movie…” But this doll is a real thing, and it’s so frightening it will leave your nerves ragged.
An interesting trend is growing in the paranormal genre. Over the last few years, the best of the scary movies have had something in common, their basis on true events. Not in the old “Based on a scary story we once heard” manner but with consistent rules and accepted “truths” among demonologists. There is a difference between Ghosts and Demons. Ghosts are human spirits, weaker in spirit, generally benign, and only haunt locations. Demons are evil spirits that have never existed in the flesh, are always harmful even if they may hide their true intentions, and use objects as a “conduit” to the physical world. “The Conjuring”, “Deliver Us From Evil” (book and film), and “Annabelle” all share in these generally accepted beliefs. All three of these films also share another factor, the real life married couple Ed & Lorraine Warren, who are considered by many to be the nation’s leading demonologists. Although they are only mentioned offhand in “Annabelle” the real doll currently resides, locked up, in their museum.
“Annabelle” is far from a documentary however. While certain events and the general nature of the possessed doll are true, they are woven into a more entertaining and suspenseful 98 minute film. The story tells of the doll’s original possession and the havoc it wreaks on the loving catholic family are the unfortunate target of its hatred. Like all movies of this fashion, there are many long unnerving shots, loud noises that suddenly cut off, and other frightening sounds. (Like the “Inception Blare” the “Paranormal Activity Hum” is the industry’s new favorite sound bite.) At the center of the film are Mia (Annabelle Wallis) & John (Ward Horton) a wonderful young couple that are very likable. They are the kind of cinematic couple that is so blissful the audience immediately knows a tragedy lies in their future. To the Hollywood gods, no couple deserves to be that happy. After a shockingly violent first act, the film settles into a slow burn that gradually turns up the intensity. It’s almost slow at points, but the character building allows the audience to be more invested in the characters when all hell breaks loose in the final act.
There are a few missteps along the way, the classic silliness of the loving husband assuming his wife is suddenly nuts being one, but overall the film is very effective. The camerawork is exceptional, frustrating the audience with the unseen. It’s fun to watch the audience during a movie like this. Half the crowd are shielding their eyes, the other half craning their necks futilely trying to look around the corner. “Annabelle” falls just short of “The Conjuring” but if you enjoyed the latter, you will certainly enjoy this prequel.
NOTE: One of the best scares of the film is ruined by the trailer. Avoid all trailers if you want to enjoy this film to its fullest.
4 out of 5 Stars
Download your own printable Annabelle Masks HERE!