So I went to go see Annabelle (Warner Bros.) yesterday because it’s our 31 Days of Horror fest AND it was kicking ass at the box office. The film went head to head with Ben Affleck’s Gone Girl, and held its own very well. I’ll tell you why in my spoiler free, yet brutally honest movie review.
First of all, Annabelle doesn’t try to reinvent the horror movie. There’s nothing in this film that you haven’t seen before in other horror movies, unless you were living under a rock or on Pluto for the last century. In fact, it felt like director John R. Leonetti relied mainly on the fact that Mia (Annabelle Wallis) was pregnant (and eventually a stay-at-home mom with nothing else going on but soap operas, sewing, and tending to the baby) to add the fright to the plethora of cliche horror movie plot devices that littered the first half of the film. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t terrifying either. Things go bump in the night and during the day, and the rocking chair rocks at odd times, appliances turn themselves on mysteriously, and wreak havoc thanks to an unseen entity, etc. You know, the usual…
The only reason the first half of the film didn’t completely put me to sleep is the fact that, again, there was a pregnant woman being haunted and terrorized. We see pregnant woman as in need of defense and protection, so it was natural for the audience to feel fearful for her, even if we weren’t necessarily fearful ourselves. I hated her husband John (Ward Horton) far too often. He was often selfish, clueless, and generally uninterested in Mia, not in a wicked way, but he was always a day late and a penny short to the ballgame. Damn it, your wife and child are in danger. Does someone need to buy you a clue? He was likable only when he got his head out of his ass, and helped his wife. Wallis and Horton didn’t have much chemistry either, so their pairing was a bit of a distraction. The acting was good for the most part, but seasoned movie vets like Alfre Woodard and Tony Amendola helped to fill any holes in the acting as a whole.
Tony Amendola as Father Perez, and Annabelle Wallis as Mia
The second half of the movie is when things get really good, really fast. Like I said, Annabelle did not include any revolutionary horror movie plot devices, but this second half was good because there was a swerve I wasn’t aware of. Just when the first half sets you up to believe that you know who has gotten into the doll, you learn that you were so very wrong after a truly terrifying scene where Mia goes down to the basement of the building during a thunderstorm…
That actually brings me to my next issue. The poor decisions made in this film are many, like the aforementioned scene in the basement. The characters made it entirely too easy for an evil entity to screw with them. Despite those piss poor decisions, the second half of the film more than made up for the somewhat sluggish beginning, and the people in my theater–including myself–jumped out of their seats, voiced how creeped out they were, and/or, in my case, screamed out loud. It was as if Leonetti was revitalized towards the end, or was saving the best for last.
So, I definitely recommend you go see Annabelle if you haven’t already. To be honest, I liked it better than The Conjuring, which was more boring than enjoyable. It’s fun, just scary enough as a whole, and sets up a potential sequel quite well (if possible). I, for one, would welcome an Annabelle 2.