Movies, Horror
2 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

2 out of 5 stars

Horror filmmakers are terrible at putting away childish things—least of all the perfectly creepy Annabelle, a doll with burning eyes and skin the slightest hint of rotting green. She's been sprung from her glass-encased bookends in last summer's wonderfully solid The Conjuring for this rote spinoff, a prequel that feels boxed in: Everything organic from James Wan's retro smash feels aggressively "vintage" and showy in Annabelle, directed by Wan's cameraman, John R. Leonetti. Set in a Charles Manson–spooked 1969, it stars a young pregnant couple, Mia (Annabelle Wallis) and John (Ward Horton), whom, if you haven't guessed it from their names, are about to live through their own Rosemary's Baby.

An electrifying early scare sets the bar way too high, as the doting Santa Monica couple awakens to the screams of neighbors—Mia calls the police and we see that their home is invaded too, by murderous hippies who stab her in the abdomen. Fortunately the baby is fine. The mother, though, is haunted by memory, and so is the script, piling on laughworthy bumps in the night, creaky rocking chairs, a demon-infested basement and more gliding baby carriages than an '80s De Palma film. Regardless, Mia makes room for Annabelle on the shelf, like the world's most obtuse collector.

Centrally, the title character remains an impressive piece of propwork, and Leonetti's restraint in never animating it (à la Chucky) is the only thing worth appreciating here. Meanwhile, the human beings—including Alfre Woodard as a handy local bookstore owner and occultist—feel as plastic as Barbie dolls.

Follow Joshua Rothkopf on Twitter: @joshrothkopf



Release details

Release date:
Friday October 3 2014
98 mins

Cast and crew

John R. Leonetti
Gary Dauberman
Annabelle Wallis
Alfre Woodard
Eric Ladin
Ward Horton

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