Label: Warner Bros.Home Entertainment
Release Date: January 20th 2015
Region Code: A/1
Duration: 98 Minutes
Audio: DTS-HD MA English 5.1
Video: 1080p widescreen (2.4:1)
Director: John R. Leonetti
Cast: Annabelle Wallis, Ward Horton, Alfre Woodard, Kerry O'Malley, Brian Howe, Tony Amendol, Eric Ladin
Synopsis: John Form has found the perfect gift for his expectant wife, Mia — a beautiful, rare vintage doll in a pure white wedding dress. But Mia's delight with Annabelle doesn't last long.On one horrific night, their home is invaded by members of a satanic cult, who violently attack the couple. Spilled blood and terror are not all they leave behind. The cultists have conjured an entity so malevolent that nothing they did will compare to the sinister conduit to the damned that is now...Annabelle.
Film: I was quite a fan of James Wan's possession chiller The Conjuring last year, and like everybody else I wanted more of the Annabelle story we glimpsed at the start of that film. I do enjoy a good, creepy doll horror film as evidenced by my love of Child's Play, Puppet Master series and Dolls and was hoping that's what we would be in store for here when this spin-off / prequel produced by James Wan and directed by The Conjuring cinematography John R. Leonetti.
The spin-off starts off on a strong note, set in Santa Monica in the late sixties we have a young married couple Mia (Annabelle Wallis) and her doctor husband John (Ward Horton), who are expecting a child very soon. John gifts his wife with a new porcelain dol, a creepy collectible she's been in search of for some time and she loves it. That very same night Mia awakens to the sound of the neighbors being murdered by their daughter Annabelle and her boyfriend who are part of a Satanic cult.
She wakes John who oddly goes next door to investigate while she calls the police. while on the phone Mia is attacked by the male cult member and is stabbed in the abdomen, before he can finish the job he is shot dead by police. Annabelle meanwhile locks herself in the baby room before slitting her own throat while holding the already creepy porcelain doll.
Both Mia and the unborn child survive the attack and the couple slowly settle into normality but strange things begin happening around the home, the usual array of slamming doors and appliances turning on by themselves. The weirdness escalates to their house burning down and the couple move to an apartment in Pasadena following the birth of their daughter Leah.
I was on board with from the start and right up until the just after the cult attack but the typical array of strange happening around the house was a bit of a letdown. Set in the sixties I liked the Manson type cult and reference to the Sharon Tate murders, that worked for me and the way they set-up the murders of the neighbor and how you just glimpse it through the window was inspired but once it settles into the spooky doll/demon possession routine it soured me pretty quickly.
The movie borrows quite a bit from Roman Polanski's Rosemary's Baby once the couple move into an apartment building following the house fire. However they don't commit to going full-on with with the paranoia and water down even that influence to the point of disinterest..
Most of the problems lay within a rushed script that doesn't quite know what it wants to be, with so many borrowed elements from better films but coming nowhere close to any of them in terms of quality and scares. All is not lost thought, the film does have a few bright moments including the cult murder scenario, also the design of the demon is very cool but underused in my opinion, there are a handful of decent jump scares but otherwise this one is sparse on both substance and scares. The creepy design of the doll is by far the scariest thing about the movie and the fact that it's not utilized more or differently is a shame. I kept waiting for the Chucky moment but it never comes - stare at that damn doll all you want it's never going to truly do anything!
The Blu-ray looks technically great with strong color reproduction and the surround sound mix sounds great, including another unnerving score from composer Joseph Bishara (The Conjuring). Extras on the Blu-ray disc includes 21 minutes of featurettes and another 21 minutes of deleted scenes.
- The Curse of Annabelle (6 Minutes)
- Bloody Tears of Possession (6 Minutes)
- Dolls of the Demon (12 Minutes)
- A Demonic Process (4 Minutes)
- Deleted Scenes (21 Minutes)
Verdict: A very polished studio horror film that was rushed into production to capitalize on the success of THE CONJURING. Not a film that I can recommend to the hardcore horror set but to the theater goer this might offer some chills, but personally I found it to be quite a disappointment following the quality scares of THE CONJURING. Obviously the film was quite a success at the box office so the film has a lot of fans, if you are one of them you can own “Annabelle” on Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD, and Digital HD on January 20th.