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Film Review: 'Annabelle'

Kathy Zerbib |
September 30, 2014 | 7:22 p.m. PDT

Senior Entertainment Editor

The creepy doll from "The Conjuring" is back in "Annabelle" (Warner Bros).
The creepy doll from "The Conjuring" is back in "Annabelle" (Warner Bros).
Considering how successful "The Conjuring" was at the box office last year and how often sequels are 'conjured' up nowadays, it is no surprise "Annabelle" came to be. This time around, however, the raw horror is lacking.

Like "The Conjuring," "Annabelle" is a supposedly true story retold by renowned paranormal experts Ed and Lorraine Warren. Let's just say that if you did not believe the former to be "true," the latter won't convince you otherwise.

READ MORE: Film Review: 'The Equalizer'

In "Annabelle," John Gordon (Ward Horton) presents his pregnant wife Mia Gordon (Annabelle Wallis) with a (hideous) antique doll to put in her collection of other (hideous) collectible dolls. Little does John know he's just introduced what would become a possessed toy into his home.

Later that night, the Gordons' neighbors are murdered by their demon-worshipping daughter Annabelle and her equally disturbed boyfriend. While John scurries off next door to see what all the fuss is about, Annabelle enters the home and finds the doll and Mia. Before Annabelle can get to Mia, the police arrive and the murderess instead kills herself in the future baby's nursery. Her blood spills all over the doll. 

Two things are immediately hailed as miracles at this point of the plot. One, Mia does not lose the baby despite facing so much trauma and it is such a relief. Two, Mia does not turn the doll over to the police that night. Instead, she tells John to throw the doll out, but doesn't even question when it mysteriously turns up again after the family moves to another home. Wrong move. By then, Annabelle's evil blood is soaked up by the doll and it is too late to escape it. Couldn't the police have snagged the doll for evidence or purely because a young couple expecting a child should not have such hideous things that might scare an infant in the first place? This could all have been prevented.

This is also where the movie dips permanently. 

"Annabelle" is essentially a shakeup of ghosts, demons, cults, exorcisms, disbelieving husbands, blood, frantic mothers, innocent babies and senseless amounts of startling scenes. There is no need to force so many instances of the doll jumping out unless you're making a horror movie without much else to call "horror." It's too much cheap scare, not enough thrill.

It's also a bit too loud. Startling moments are punctuated with extremely deafening noises that shock but don't scare. It's too dramatic and takes away from the movie's appreciation.

READ MORE: Film Review: 'No Good Deed'

While the doll is indeed frightening, it's on the short list of truly disturbing elements in the movie. Creepiness is a powerful tool, but it can't carry a whole 98-minute movie.

The film does not present anything new to the scary movie genre and it is a wasted project overall. What a disappointing way to start off the Halloween season. 

Watch the trailer for "Annabelle" below. The movie hits theaters on Friday, October 3.

Reach Senior Entertainment Editor Kathy Zerbib here. Follow her on Twitter here.



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