On the Silver Screen – Annabelle
Annabelle serves as a prequel to The Conjuring and tells the story of a family being terrorised by a malevolent demonic force following an attack on their home some months prior.
John (Ward Horton) and Mia (Annabelle Wallis) are a married couple preparing for the arrival of their first child when they are attacked by two cultists one night. Once their baby is born strange things start to happen both in their current house and when they move indicating the presence of a supernatural evil out to claim a soul.
It’s been a while since I watched a horror movie since in general they don’t really do much for me. I normally find the characters dull and nothing about it scares me so I generally don’t bother with them. I opted to check this one out because some aspects of the trailer were nicely done but on the whole I’d say I regret sitting through this. For the most part it wasn’t much different to the last horror movie I watched (Mama for reference) and rounded out to be frustratingly unimpressive.
I didn’t really get along with the characters who would come and go from the plot with little explanation. John spends most of the film at work so is rarely seen despite the fact that his wife Mia is at home scared out of her mind at any shadow she can find to jump at. John is pretty uninteresting overall with many of his scenes reduced to cheesy dialogue about how much he loves his family.
Most of the work in the film is done by Mia and to Annabelle Wallis’ credit she does a good job of coming across as being terrified but she does too many things that annoy me. Chief among them is how negligent a parent she seems to be; there’s one scene where she goes down to the lobby and leaves her months old daughter alone in her apartment for however long she’s down there. It’s been established by this point that she has noticed some weird things going on so the fact that she’s so willing to leave her child unattended is even more baffling. She also fills her daughter’s room with a collection of traumatisingly creepy dolls guaranteed to make any child grow up having nightmares.
Evelyn (Alfre Woodard) comes and goes from the plot and fills the role of someone who has had experience of this supernatural stuff before. It’s a little dodgy that the only black character in the story knows all of this and all she really exists to do is give an exposition dump when the plot needs it. Strangely I thought her character was the best, Woodard does a great job of putting across her pain and regret surrounding her tragic past and she’s a genuinely warm presence in the movie. It is a shame that she wasn’t given an awful lot to do except explain how demons work. I also quite liked Tony Amendola’s Father Perez despite the fact that he didn’t have much to do. The actor did a lot with very little and came across as a likeable character.
One thing that has always annoyed me about horror movies is the constant reliance on jump scares. This film is full of them, in fact there aren’t many scares that don’t use this tired method. I did think the doll was a very creepy fixture to have throughout the film, the blank expression that would be silently focused on for just long enough to be creepy was a nice touch but beyond that there wasn’t much in the way of imagination when it came to the horror elements.
There’s not really much to recommend here unless you like this sort of horror movie. Many of the characters are uninteresting with flashes of competence from Alfre Woodard and Annabelle Wallis lifting the mediocrity slightly. There were some effective creepy moments focusing on the terrifying looking doll but there’s far too heavy a reliance on jump scares throughout the film.