Film Review: Annabelle


A spin-off from last year’s The Conjuring, Annabelle is a run of the mill horror in the familiar style of producer James Wan.

Expecting a child, young couple John and Mia suffer from a traumatic event. As they recover from this, Mia begins to notice strange occurrences in their home, which appear to be linked to a recently-bought doll…

Annabelle treads a familiar path as a supernatural horror movie. Director John R. Leonetti’s film sets up the archetypal normal protagonists which the audience will be able to relate to. The scene is pretty idyllic, before the inevitable danger strikes.

A major problem with the film is that the pacing is not great. Annabelle is not a long film, yet it feels rather leaden, particularly the middle third. Although the initial set up and the relationship between John and Mia needs to be established, there is a definite lack of momentum before the final third.

There are certainly a few trepidatious moments in Annabelle. Small effects early in the film are quite effective in setting the mood. There is a sequence involving an elevator later in the film which is finely executed. Sound design in the film is most effective in generating a sense of tension. Performances in the film are suitable, even if character motivations

As a period set film, Annabelle for the most part makes the most of the limitations of communication. The film makes direct reference to the Manson Family, and later features a sequence echoing real-life events. This clear allusion to a real tragedy feels distasteful in a outlandish horror such as Annabelle.

Some good atmospherics and genuinely unnerving moments are undone by the  common fallacy of reveal too much of the antagonist rather than leaving thoughts to fester in the minds of viewers. Annabelle will temporarily quench the thirst of those looking for a light horror fix, but ultimately is not memorable.