Dream Home Barbie
[pullquote cite=”” type=”left, right”][amazon text=Amazon&template=carousel&chan=That Film Guy&asin=B00AAA62TI][/pullquote] Following hot on the successful heels of The Conjuring comes Annabelle, a limp haunted doll film follow-up to a far superior horror film. Like its predecessor it is taken from the casebook of the Ed and Lorraine Warren, although there is no Vera Farmiga or Patrick Wilson this time around. Instead the action focuses on all-American couple John and Mia Gordon (Ward Horton and Annabelle Wallis).
The couple are expecting their first child when the daughter of their neighbours reappears having left previously to join a Manson family cult. Along with a fellow cultist, they assault the Gordons, but the daughter commits suicide while holding a new doll owned by Mia. Following a move to a new area, strange happenings begin surrounding the doll as the family begin to realise that it may just be haunted.
If that synopsis sounds lame, its nothing to experiencing the film itself. The horror genre is not unfamiliar with sequels, prequels, spin-offs and reboots, in fact studios positively encourage it, but there are consequences to such decisions. Firstly if you use the name The Conjuring on all your advertising, you will have to expect at least some comparison, and it is in this comparison that Annabelle completely fails to hold its own.
There is a small amount of character-building in the opening act, but stars Horton and Wallis completely fail to engage with the audience. Wallis in fact barely shows up as a proper character with believable reactions until around the two-thirds mark, by which point it’s too late.
Annabelle also starts with the same scene as The Conjuring with a group of people talking about the doll, but her impact is minimal other than to appear unexpectedly. This is actual a neat idea, providing the pay-off is well handled. It is not. By the time the truth is revealed you’ll be exhausted by the small number of cheap jump-scares and long periods of watching a not-particularly-interesting couple go about their daily lives.
There are liberal and heavily drawn influences from the likes of Child’s Play, The Exorcist and Magic, but rather than an interesting homage, it feels cheap, lazy and ultimately completely unfulfilling.
There is a reason people who decry the lack of quality and originality in horror films have such a solid argument and it’s because of films like Annabelle.