Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Annabelle Wallis, Ward Horton, Tony Amendola, Alfre Woodard, Kerry O'Malley, Brian Howe, Eric Ladin, Ivar Brogger
Written by: Gary Dauberman
Directed by: John R. Leonetti
MPAA Rating: R for intense sequences of disturbing violence and terror
Running Time: 98
Date: 10/03/2014
IMDB

Annabelle (2014)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Dolled Up

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The Conjuring was an excellent horror film that introduced two real-life ghostbusters, the Warrens, that could have been the subject of many good sequels. Instead, this quickie spinoff/prequel was devised, directed by the cinematographer of the previous film, John R. Leonetti, without any of the original cast. Annabelle does not bring a single new idea to the screen, and most of the scares are of the jump-shock variety, but some of the old standbys still work.

The story takes place before the events of The Conjuring, charting the evil doll "Annabelle." In the late 1960s, young couple Mia (Annabelle Wallis) and John (Ward Horton) are expecting their first baby. As a gift, John gives Mia a creepy doll for her collection. With images of the Manson Family murders on television, two murderous creeps break into their home, and while John fights them off, Mia is stabbed, and Annabelle is caught in the fray. Terrifying things begin to happen. The baby is born, couple moves to a new apartment, but the disturbances continue, and the ghosts and spooky disturbances give way to images of a demon. With the help of a bookseller (Alfre Woodard), Mia learns that it will not stop until it possesses a human soul.

Overall, Annabelle is a well-made movie, directed with patience, with a sense of space, and with incredible period detail. The performances are fine, especially Alfre Woodard as a grieving mother who runs a helpful bookshop, and the characters are sympathetic and intelligent. (The husband could take offense to his wife's experiences, but he chooses to support her.) It's probably fairly forgettable, but horror fans will get a quick kick out of it.

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