Last year’s supernatural hit The Conjuring featured a haunted doll at the heart of its paranormal plot. That doll gets its own spin-off in Annabelle.
In 1969, two years before the events of The Conjuring, John Gordon buys his pregnant wife Mia a doll to add to her burgeoning collection. After narrowly escaping murder from cult members later that night, further strange events arise in their house, putting their lives in danger. Mia begins to suspect the house is cursed and has been caused by this new doll Annabelle, which is possessed by the evil spirit of a young woman.
Unlike fellow killer doll Chucky, Annabelle remains inanimate throughout. Annabelle has a slow atmospheric build, allowing the events to progress without it (for the most part) feeling rushed or forced. This was different to the blood and guts, show and tell approach we’ve grown accustomed to in contemporary horror and I liked that. However, Annabelle’s scares are all conventional ones; false jumps, ghostly apparitions chasing the lead, over reliance of the film’s score to create dread, etc. It falls into the cliché trap.
Not much of note actually happens across Annabelle’s 98 minutes or leaves a lasting impression post viewing.