Film Review: “Annabelle”

Morgan Smith

Annabelle” absolutely pales in comparison to last year’s “The Conjuring.”

As far as haunting movies go, there is not too much creativity. “The Conjuring” was creative, wildly successful and won the Saturn Award for Best Horror Film.

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Photo courtesy of "Annabelle"
Photo courtesy of “Annabelle”

“Annabelle” is a standard mold of a haunting/demonic film, and really presents nothing original. In fact, the movie seems to be a blatant re-imagining of Roman Polanski‘s “Rosemary’s Baby,” which features a couple about to have a baby, moving into a new house and Satan trying to take the baby for himself.

“Annabelle” features a couple about to have a baby, moving into a new house and Satan trying to take the baby for himself. Also, the parents’ names in “Annabelle” are Mia and John, the same first names of the stars of “Rosemary’s Baby.” Both films also feature a horribly cheap-looking Satan costume.

I was initially excited for “Annabelle,” because I wanted to see expansion in the universe of “The Conjuring.” But after seeing how little work went into “Annabelle,” it is clear to see how the film was merely a business move.

The film was micro-budgeted at about $5 million according to IMDb, and almost the entire cast and crew are relatively new to the film-making business. In fact, the only major people who came over from “The Conjuring” are the film’s cinematographer, John Leonetti, and the film’s manager of music, Joseph Bishara. This can help to explain why the shots and the great soundtrack are the only aspects reminiscent of “The Conjuring’s” greatness.

The acting was absolutely horrendous. The mother, Mia, is played by Annabelle Wallis. Hopefully her first name is not the reason she was hired. The whole theater seemed to agree she played the worst mother of all time. Highlights include leaving her daughter by herself while there are evil demons in the house and putting her next to an unstable bookcase, instead of leaving her with a relative or a trusted daycare while she figures this whole Satan and homicidal, demonic doll thing out.

The father, John, played by Ward Horton, really brings nothing to the table. He is your average 60s man who really doesn’t respect women, and he is absolutely naive about everything. He is one of the least interesting characters you could imagine.

In “The Conjuring,” you could feel a tension for most of the film. Sure, the jump scares were really great, but more importantly, it created an atmosphere of nervousness, which is absolutely paramount for any horror film or psychological thriller. “Gone Girl,” which also came out this week, was one of the scariest movies I’ve ever seen just because of the creepy atmosphere.

“Annabelle” was just laughable. The major jump scares were just loud, and the scariest moments of the film were already revealed in the trailer. There was no tension, nervousness or fear throughout the whole film. It was just about waiting until the next jump scare.

And by the time the end comes, you don’t really care anymore. We all know the doll survives to be in “The Conjuring.” We know that some main characters die or don’t. That is all that can happen.

Hopefully there are no more films about “The Conjuring” universe, if this is a sign of the effort they will put into them.

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Collegian A&E Film Beat Writer Morgan Smith can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @MDSFilms.