The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part
The Walking Dead
Log in with Facebook
Forgot your password?
Don't have an account? Sign up here
and the Terms and Policies,
and to receive email from Rotten Tomatoes and Fandango.
Already have an account? Log in here
Please enter your email address and we will email you a new password.
We want to hear what you have to say but need to verify your account. Just leave us a message here and we will work on getting you verified.
Please reference “Error Code 2121” when contacting customer service.
Annabelle borrows unabashedly from better horror films, content to leave viewers with a string of cheap jolts that fail to build on the far more effective The Conjuring.
All Critics (127)
| Top Critics (28)
| Fresh (37)
| Rotten (90)
Quality is often irrelevant in a horror movie; shock is the key.
The script, by Gary Dauberman, is a clichéd mess, lacking humor and surprises. But Leonetti stages some fright-worthy sequences ...
What about this movie is supposed to scare us?
Annabelle, who takes an hour to stand upright, will go down as the laziest devil-doll in movie history; compared to her, Chucky's a Harvard MBA prospect.
What we mostly get in Annabelle is what we've gotten from so many other horror films: creaking floors, funky white-robed figures, home appliances that go off on their own, mysterious writing that shows up in mysterious places.
Annabelle, an effective prequel to horror pastiche The Conjuring, surpasses its predecessor simply by virtue of occasionally being scary.
Nothing more than a case of a studio trying to cash in on the previous film. It's dull, predictable and really dumb.
Annabelle will likely make seasoned horror fans giggle occasionally, but it fulfills its basic genre duty -- for much of its running time, it's scary.
What could have been a companion piece to The Conjuring is instead a yawn-inducing show.
The film has a good sprinkling of campy-awareness, but never chooses the laugh over the scare.
The best performance in the film comes from a two-year-old baby
It will give you your money's worth, while not really serving you anything too memorable (or scary) as some of the other, more sinister horror films we've seen in the last few years.
Although The Conjuring had a great sequel to follow it, the premise itself seemed like lightning in a bottle, but like any successful film these days, spinoffs and sequels are inevitable, due to the fact that studios are just money-hungry conglomerates. When Annabelle was released back in 2014, it only furthered this notion. While I've definitely seen worse horror films, this is a failure of a movie on multiple levels. There were so many interesting aspects about The Conjuring, giving depth in its story and detail in ts characters, but basing an entire film around a doll that appears for only a moment seemed like a waste of time to me, and it definitely was. With age, this film just becomes more and more forgettable, but with the release of Annabelle: Creation coming up, let's revisit the movie that was completely unnecessary.
The biggest problem that people will find with this film, is that it truly feels like an excuse to continue the lore of The Conjuring franchise. Not very long, not very complex, and quite frankly not that scary, Annabelle is about as bland as horror films can get these days. A family moves into a new house, has a baby, and begins to get haunted by a demon, who is communicating through the doll. Without any large reveals to keep you interested or a strong enough conclusion leave you somewhat satisfied, this premise does absolutely nothing to earn praise from anyone.
The biggest takeaway that I was able to find here, was the fact that the main cast in Annabelle Wallis and Ward Horton seemed to be quite devoted to their respective roles as husband and wife. Quite honestly, this isa film that could've easily placed anyone in these roles, so I found myself appreciating their dedication in pulling the audience into the lives of these everyday characters. Their performances aren't award-worthy or anything of that nature, but by the end of the film, the biggest positive was the cast, at least in my opinion. That being said, the rest of the film just feels like a bleak movie, filled with cop-outs and wasted opportunities.
Like most generic horror films, Annabelle is riddled with quite a few false-scares, but it's not like the film earns anything from it by having an awesome finale, because the film really just ends, without having anything remotely exciting happen. Throughout the film, there are many close-ups on sewing machines and dolls, making you think that something is about to jump out and scare you, but then it just cuts to the next scene. As I said, this is never earned throughout the film, because this tactic is consistently used, becoming more annoying than terrifying. I found myself bored throughout the majority of the movie, even when it was trying to be scary.
In the end, Annabelle is a film that should've had a completely different team working on it. I felt as though this crew and post-production team should've taken on a strict drama, because that's what I felt like I was watching most of the time. With more engaging direction, a different editing style, and a script that left many more intriguing questions than this final result did, Annabelle just feels like a completely missed opportunity for horror fans or fans of The Conjuring in general. It's an easy watch for those who are easily scared, but that's also a negative, so I can't muster up anything remotely positive about this film, other than there are are very nice shots and the actors seem to be giving it their all. Overall, this is a movie that just shouldn't have been made. Let's see what Annabelle: Creation has to offer.
Because it follows to the letter the conventions of the genre, this is an efficient yet passable horror movie that doesn't come close to being as scary as The Conjuring but offers some good moments here and there (like the elevator scene, which is particularly terrifying).
Okay, it's not the best horror ever made, and The Conjuring was much better, but there were a few scares and that was one scary ass looking doll.
I didn't especially like the ending. It seemed convenient, and the lack of care for the friend was more horrifying than the other events (won't say more and spoil it). Also the God and mothers thing was cloying and irritating.
But those few gripes aside - not bad.
The Conjuring was one of the breakout hits of 2013, so it's no surprise that Hollywood fast-tracked a spin-off to take advantage of Conjurin' fever. Enter John R. Leonetti, the accomplished cinematographer on The Conjuring and director of bad sequels like Butterfly Effect 2 and Mortal Kombat: Annihilation. Now in the spotlight, little Annabelle is proving to be a star of her own as far as box-office grosses are concerned. It's too bad her new movie is about as lifeless as she is.
In the late 1960s, Mia (Annabelle Wallis) is pregnant with her first child when murderous cultists terrorize her home. They are dispatched but not before one young woman slices her own throat holding one of Mia's expensive porcelain dolls, the Annabelle one. Her husband (Ward Horton, who looks like a living Ken doll) is afraid to leave her alone and reaches out to the church to help his wife. Strange things are going on in their home, mostly concerning the infamous Annabelle doll.
The impact of Annabelle will depend directly upon your good will concerning The Conjuring and what your law of diminishing returns is with a creepy doll. To be abundantly clear, the Annabelle doll is one creepy looking thing. But how much can an audience take of a creepy looking doll that doesn't have any articulation or expression? The character, and it feels like a stretch to label the doll as such, worked effectively as a prologue to The Conjuring due to the relative brief appearance. The doll was creepy enough for ten minutes and then the audience moved on. Now in a starring vehicle all to herself, Annabelle risks overexposure and the realization of just how limited this little demonic figure might be. A killer doll that comes to life is a genuinely unsettling proposition, one richly explored in a classic Twilight Zone episode that's still spooky to this day. However, Annabelle doesn't really do anything, and I suppose that's the point. The doll is a conduit for the larger, invisible demonic force at play. We already know that it's not the doll or a ghost but a demon posing as such. Ultimately, the doll isn't anything more than a device to go back to again and again, a horror staple in place of true unnerving tension and dread. Hey, it's hard to carefully manufacture and ratchet suspense, so why not just keep going back to a creepy looking doll instead?
With a lackluster antagonist, it's no surprise then that Annabelle has to rely on all the hoary tropes of horror just to fill out its running time. The plot by writer Gary Dauberman plays out like the filmmakers watched Rosemary's Baby, a documentary special on Sharon Tate, and said, "That's it, we got out movie." The Manson family-like cult is a plot element cast aside too quickly. They bring the demon to the doll, but the followers of this demonic presence never terrorize the couple again. It seems like one of many missed opportunities. Instead we get a slow series of events of the doll/demon messing around with Mia. There's the kindly older priest that's called into service, who does nothing. There's a helpful neighbor mourning the loss of her own child who ends up an insulting plot device (more on this later with spoilers). And oh are there characters behaving stupidly, chief among them our heroine. She's rather slow to realize the danger she is in and often leaves her baby alone to investigate said supernatural shenanigans. You know, the baby that is the object of desire for this demonic force. Rather than be proactive and have any sense of agency, Mia is that older type of horror heroine who runs around screaming and cowering in corners. It gets tired. There's one scene where she's trying to escape via an elevator that keeps opening on the same haunted floor. She literally hits the elevator button four times each time expecting something different, and the camera angle remains the same, leading to titters from my audience.
While The Conjuring certainly wasn't a brave new direction in the realm of cinematic horror, it was skillfully executed and masterfully setup its scares. Annabelle does have a few decent boo moments, many of which were showcased in the trailer, but it cannot overcome the burden of all its clichés and wooden characters. Audiences are used to characters making poor decisions in horror films, but you still should have some level of believability or internal logic to their decision-making that doesn't make your brain hurt. Sadly, Annabelle cannot rise above the limitations of its titular "monster" and so it has to rely upon an assemblage of familiar horror tropes to make due.
This paragraph is going into spoilers concerning the ending so I'd advise any reader wishing to remain pure to skip to the next paragraph. The great actress Alfre Woodard plays that grieving neighbor lady, the one who is joyously buying Mia baby clothes for her little one. During a climactic confrontation, Mia demands to know what the demon entity wants. It communicates via crayon scrawls on the ceiling: "Her soul." One of the film's creepier moments. Then the baby disappears and she wants to know what it will take to save her child. Mia looks to a window and written on it is, "Your soul," just as it gently pushes itself open. Again, a creepy moment. I was starting to get the impression the film was picking up momentum. She's about to sacrifice herself when she's pulled back inside. This is where the film goes from bad to insultingly bad. I kept repeating under my breath, "Don't do it, don't do it," and wouldn't you know, they did it. Woodard realizes her purpose: she must sacrifice herself so this nice white couple will be safe. She dives out the window and evil is vanquished... sort of. It's a stupid character arc made all the more unpleasant by the racial casting choices. I'd rather Woodard just save herself.
This small prequel has proven to be a smash at the box-office, so where does Annabelle go from here? Another prequel seems unlikely considering the events of this movie cover the birth of the demonic doll and lead directly to the prologue of The Conjuring, where this spunky little doll met her match with the married paranormal investigators played by Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson. The real Annabelle is encased in a glass prison. The only direction seems to be forward, with Annabelle breaking free of her prison and having a night on the town. Maybe she can locate Chucky and that Twilight Zone doll. I just hope future adventures with Annabelle, and its box-office grosses almost assure there will be, veer away from the overload of uninspired genre clichés. There's not enough effort on display to warrant this solo side project for a creepy doll that mostly just remains creepy. Annabelle the film could have used less of Annabelle the doll. Then again an unblinking and silent doll was still the most interesting character on screen.
Nate's Grade: C-
View All Quotes