The movie, Annabelle, is loosely based – or more like inspired – by the true story of the Raggedy Ann Doll, Annabelle.
The true story can be seen here: a mother gave her daughter, a nursing student, Donna, a doll (the initial story given in The Conjuring) that kept shifting positions in her tiny apartment and this happened for around a year before paranormal researchers, Ed and Lorraine Warren encased it in their Occult Museum.
In the beginning of Annabelle, we return to the scene (which was initially seen in The Conjuring) telling the tale of how the doll moved about.
Having watched The Conjuring, I went into the cinema expecting pretty much the same amount of innovative cinematically creepy moments from Annabelle. The first few establishing shots did not disappoint, providing a backstory of how dolls are often iconic of demonic possession. The tone of the movie definitely gave the impression that we, as audience members, would be taken on a wild ride.
The film itself largely revolves around the fictional origins of Annabelle. It centres on a married couple, John and Mia (the actress of Mia looks so much like Dianna Argon and – shockingly – is coincidentally named Annabelle). Mia is pregnant and expecting a little girl. Her penchants include sewing machines and collecting porcelain dolls.
I will just proceed to share the premise of the story – minimal to no spoilers revealed.
John, out of good intention, gets Mia a new doll, which she is delighted to include in her collection. However, that night, a surprise cult attack takes place at their house and the house next to them. A man and his daughter, Annabelle, commit murder to their neighbours and proceeds to enter John and Mia’s house. The man stabs Mia in her pregnant belly.
The couple luckily survive when the police intervene and shoot the man. Unfortunately, the daughter, Annabelle, commits suicide in Mia’s baby’s room. There she leaves a demonic symbol and bleeds upon Mia’s new doll, which she hugs close to her body.
After that, the hauntings begin.
Personally I found the initial few scares alright. The juxtaposition of the sound of the sewing machine and the old television screen were perfect tense moments. However as the movie progressed, I found the bigger scares lacklustre. Compared to its older counterpart, The Conjuring, Annabelle disappoints and leaves a lot to be desired. Many scenes appear more laughable than terrifying and the climaxes were often times anti-climatic.
The tension falls faster than it rises, while The Conjuring moves like a succession of well-mastered and on-point horror, Annabelle had too many scenes left to breathe and often times scenes that led up to nothing. It fell back on many cliches.
The film worked best when the writers tapped on the “child-like” play horror of the doll, e.g. a crayon rolling on the ground, children drawings and laughter. But the moment when evil manifested itself as a tangible being, any imaginable fear plateaued.
Final verdict? 6/10. Would not watch in cinema on opening night. Would probably rent for Halloween. Couple Halloween outfit idea: Chucky and Annabelle on a play date. That would freak people out.
Till next time!