This James Wan produced horror tale would have been better served if he was behind the directors chair as this film seemed like a carbon copy of his ideas, without the inspiration.
“ANNABELLE” follows the seemingly simple life of Mia (Annabelle Wallis) and John (Ward Horton) as they prepare to welcome their first child into the world. When John gives his wife a doll she has coveted for her collection things in their life suddenly take a turn for the worst.
The young couple begin to experience haunting occurrences in their lives and when Mia reluctantly enlists the help of their priest (Tony Amendola) and fellow tenant (Alfre Woodard) they begin to suspect the doll is the cause of the evil that has consumed them.
There is no hotter name in the horror genre over recent years then James Wan. With hits like; “The Conjuring”, “Saw” and “Insidious” under his belt, one cannot deny his skill for being able to envision and create haunting tales for the silver-screen without the need for all the gore. With his name attached to this film I did go into it with some higher than normal expectations and for that fact I was honestly disappointed.
The cast was solid in this one and the two lead characters delivered highly compelling performances. There were also two strong supporting roles filled by Hollywood veterans Alfre Woodard and Tony Amendola that help carry the film and characters along. The fact I can say I found this film surprisingly boring was not because of the acting, given the cast delivered more adequate performances. However the material they had to work with gave them little to expand on and despite the decent performances none really delivered any energy to draw a connection and in the end they all felt like simple nameless players in the story.
There was also a collection of good visual scenes that surprised me and pulled me up out of my seat which is usually the sole purpose for watching films like this. Regardless of whether or not this small collection of creepy scenes were only littered among many other generic set-ups to cause a scare, didn’t hinder their delivery. In fact they left me wanting more which seemed to the common theme of my opinions as I sat through this film that never really built any formidable feelings of fright.
Problems in this film for me were in the construction of the story-line. The first-act starts out good and delivers a compelling set-up to the films premise while managing to provide a couple of relatively startling moments. However not long into this one you begin to feel the generic path of the story will follow. Not long into the second-act this movie started to feel like a been-there-done-that genre story with James Wan’s past works as inspiration, but lacking his creativity in its execution.
Director John R. Leonetti, for whatever reason didn’t seem to make this project his own. As it continued through the slow crawl of the second-act the entire thing felt like a less than effective rendition of a Wan directed piece, only without his eye for the genre and skilled delivery in the camerawork.
While this film had its few moments of intrigue the bulk of this film seemed too recycled and lacking fresh creativity or much ambition. “Annabelle” was not a waste of time but no matter how much I wanted this movie to draw some fright out of me, it never happened. As the third-act climax only disappointed me more, I realized this wanted-scare would never come. Keep the expectations lower than you would normally, and you may find some fun in this one but it’s unfortunately extremely average.
The true documentary on the actual doll and the events around it would be a much better option than this fictional rendition, and will without question have you thinking after, while giving you the frights you may be hunting for as well.