Ricky's Film Reviews

Bringing you honest reviews of recent releases

Annabelle

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A couple begin to experience terrifying supernatural occurrences involving a vintage doll shortly after their home is invaded by satanic cultists.

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Cast

Annabelle Wallis – Mia Gordon

Ward Horton – John Gordon

Tony Amendola – Father Perez

Alfre Woodard – Evelyn

Kerry O’Malley – Sharon Higgins

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Less Is More

The main element of Annabelle I enjoyed the most was the doll’s ability to be terrifying – without actually doing anything. You’ll notice throughout this movie that she doesn’t move her face, she doesn’t even blink – but its the evil expression on her chops which create enough of an impact without the need of any puppetry or special effects. Some scenes had me biting my lip and squinting slightly; mainly where the camera pans slowly in on her face as she sits in a chair, etc. – at one point, Mia hears creaking coming from the adjacent room she put Anabelle in and goes to investigate..

..upon opening the door, the doll has stopped rocking in the chair and sits staring at Mia. Legs hanging over the seat edge, she remains upright and smiling until Mia leaves the room. I shivered slightly – this doll doesn’t need to run around laughing manically, wielding a knife like other devilish dollies in horror movies – her face alone is bloody scary.

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I find in horror movies, its the predators who make less effort who have the highest impact. Take Michael Myers from the Halloween series; he stalks his prey by just walking (either slowly or swiftly) towards them. There’s Jamie Lee Curtis running around, letting out wailing screams in total hysteria whilst Michael simply struts in her direction. No running for him, he’s got people facing the inevitable as he goes for a brisk stroll. Same with Jason in the Friday The 13th movies; the 6ft something beastie radiates an air of terror as he walks at his victim. Annabelle joins the list of ‘Subtle Scarers’ nicely, by being naturally unnerving. During certain scenes I kept staring – half wincing – at her shoes, expecting them to wriggle or start walking. Nothing.
And of course, whenever those wide blue (yet somehow very dark) eyes stared straight ahead, I half expected them to blink. Nothing. It was this exact suspense I enjoyed about the film – expecting. Waiting. On edge, wincing. Less is more with this doll, but I couldn’t help feeling slightly deflated because there’s nothing quite as hilariously scary as having a child’s doll spring to life and wreak havoc on its dumbfounded victims.

Halloween (Michael Myers)
Michael Myers in Halloween
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Jason Voorhees in Friday The 13th

Saying that, there is one scene where Annabelle becomes rather animated. Just you wait!…

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BANG!

There are some decent jumps during Annabelle, albeit only a few. I was hoping for more “SHIT!” bits (“shit” being my main form of expression when leaping out of my seat) – but I was left slightly disappointed. Those scenes that did get my skin vibrating were enjoyable. At one point, during a tense scene between Mia and a monster, the monster falls from the ceiling in front of her. Mia shits herself – and so did half the audience. This bit made the viewers in the cinema jump so much I noticed an entire row a few feet away all rise from their seats momentarily. Bloody hilarious. The movie secures a few good juicy jumps, but I’d really hoped for more – half disappointed, half satisfied with this element.

At least the doll herself made up for the jumps the movie lacked. Just having the camera pan slowly in on her face stirred up enough tension to fill the screen with an atmosphere of dread. Well done cameramen. Well done dolly.

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Puppet Puberty

Was it just me, or did Annabelle’s face change at regular intervals during the film?
The doll went through some serious changes, facial-wise. One scene sees Mia place Annabelle on a shelf, and the doll is pale. Grinny. Wide-eyed. Less than ten minutes later during another scene, Annabelle has become slightly discoloured with green patches under her eyes. And on the subject of her eyes – they seem to be wider in some scenes, more closed in others which I must say – although sinister – adds a great eerie atmosphere around the doll. The fact she never actually moves her face yet it seems to change demonically only boosts this atmosphere. Is her ever-changing face part of a continuity error from the producers? Or is Annabelle experiencing a flush of puppet puberty? Either way, she’s bloody creepy.

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“Perfect”

When John first presents Mia with a brand new doll to complete her already flourishing collection, she pulls Annabelle from the box and comments on how perfect she is. To which I almost laughed; look at the thing! “perfect”?! She’s effing TERRIFYING! Lips curled in a menacing grin, eyebrows arched above wide absent eyes..
As Mia sat the doll on a shelf amongst the others, I couldn’t understand how she found Annabelle perfect. Perfectly ugly perhaps, but nowhere near perfect.

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Got to love a good dolly in a horror movie, haven’t you.
Throughout movie history my all-time favourite has to be (of course) Chucky. The sweet, flame-haired plaything who just “wants to play” – but turns into a nasty bastard when messed with. Brilliant but scary. There have been various creepy buggers; Dolly Dearest gave us an evil looking toy of a totally different kind, and then came Demonic Toys and the ensemble of toys who each preyed upon their victims in a way which reflected their individual quality- I.E. the fluffy grizzly bear teddy whose razor sharp teeth sprung into action to chew people’s faces off, the baby doll who could “walk, talk, and even shit my pants”, complete with a cute robot who wheeled around innocently until it began shooting actual lazers at its victims. Mad!
We have of course, had more tame versions to fit the ‘Under 12’ category such as Slappy in Goosebumps Night Of The Living Dummy (one scene in Annabelle reminded me of this kids TV show, when John throws the doll in the garbage dumpster outside – but she ends up coming back into the house!) – weird. The movies have served up a variety of deliciously wicked dolls and playthings, and now here is new arrival Annabelle. Creepy bitch.

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Andy begins to doubt his new toy’s intentions in Child’s Play, 1988
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Slappy proves more hindrance than horror in Goosebumps Night of the Living Dummy, 1996

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Well.
While my review may list a few positives, this movie isn’t exactly a Hollywood blockbuster – I think I’ve been too kind with this one.
Annabelle
isn’t the most nerve-shredding of horrors I’ve seen. In fact, it is nowhere near the same end of the horror scale as The Conjuring. While it produces a few decent jumps and scenes of tensity, its overall story is flat and has very little structure. This movie just happens – then finishes. It didn’t leave me reeling in terror or wanting more, and was instantly forgettable.

The very final scene as the credits roll (as the camera zooms in on Annabelle) was an opportunity siezed by the director to milk it – which made me wonder if he was actully taking the piss by using this element.

Not great, but not bad.
Wait for the rental though, don’t pay to see this movie.

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This entry was posted on October 14, 2014 by .
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