Marketed as the prequel to The Conjuring, Annabelle centres around a doll that creates supernatural occurrences in a couple’s home after they are attacked by satanic cultists. Having incredibly enjoyed The Conjuring with its horrific core that teasingly teetered, expectations for Annabelle were moderately high, but with the new film placed in the directorial hands of John R. Leonetti rather than James Wan, Annabelle became a hideous mess that desperately clung onto The Conjuring as a way to market its foreseeable, empty plot and horror conventionality.
It was almost like the creators of Annabelle sat in a Media Studies GCSE lesson, jotting down all the conventions of the horror genre to then haphazardly insert it into the film in the hope that because it contained dolls, a move-in, religious references, a demonic force, and a trip to the supernatural section of a library, the film would become a success. But it drastically failed and slumped into a dying desolation.
One of the central issues with this ‘horror’ is that it lacks so much scare that the audience is forced to fall back on a complex, engaging narrative. But in this case, there is nothing to fall back on but a dull, empty plot that is devoid of any intricacies or complications. As a result, the film is nothing but a few close-ups of an aesthetically creepy doll (of which has been seen and done before as well as having already been plastered over all of the film’s promotional material) along with a score that is so patronisingly, painstakingly cliché in its approach to volume and strings.
The screenplay is a regurgitated vacancy and performances were exceedingly awful. They were portrayals of prototypical and archaic characterisations of the ludicrous woman and protective man with things turning for the worse whenever the man was absent. This uncomfortable characterisation made a very sickening use of gender.
Rather than creating a creepy, unsettling doll, Annabelle is just a lifeless and juvenile one. It is trashy. So trashy Adam Sandler may as well have been cast.
Annabelle, directed by John R. Leonetti, is released by Warner Bros., Certificate 15. Watch the trailer below.