Critics Consensus

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.



Total Count: 130


Audience Score

User Ratings: 49,260
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Movie Info

Before The Conjuring, there was ANNABELLE. (C) Warner Bros.

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Critic Reviews for Annabelle

All Critics (130) | Top Critics (28) | Fresh (38) | Rotten (92)

Audience Reviews for Annabelle

  • Jun 29, 2015
    Supposedly a companion piece to a much better film the Conjuring, this film is cheesy, poorly acted and boring. It's a major stretch adding it to the other movie and I was not scared and very quickly I could care less what happened. A true dud! Wallis is nice to look at is the best compliment I can give! 06-28-2015
    Christopher O Super Reviewer
  • Jan 29, 2015
    What a great fucking description for this movie this site has. 'Before the Conjuring, there was ANNABELLE'. Gee, thanks guys! You know your film is lackluster when a LIFETIME ORIGINAL TV MOVIE is better than this. Yes, I thought Big Driver was a considerably better film. Perhaps considerably is a strong word, as I wouldn't call Big Driver a good film, but for what it was going for, and the audience it wanted to attain, it did a good job at giving the people what they wanted to see. This one, on the other hand, whoo boy, this was a rough movie to sit through. It gets two stars because the film is certainly watchable enough, Alfre Woodward is excellent here, and it has some decent scares. But this just seems to borrow heavily from other films like The Conjuring itself, Insidious, Paranormal Activity, Rosemary's Baby, among others. As you can see, the films that I've mentioned here all have one thing in common, and that is that they are all better than Annabelle. I don't think the film has one original bone in its body. Of course, not that every horror film needs to be original in order to be good. But the difference is that in those films I mentioned, that this 'borrows' from, there was at least a knowledge of how to execute real scares and how to build tension. It wasn't just cheap jump scares, like this movie does. Even worse, when shit starts hitting the fan and strange things happen around her house, the main actress, named ANNABELLE Wallis, just doesn't do a good job at selling it. Not that she's not a decent actress, but there's no sense of urgency or that she's truly terrified about what's happening to her. She may act like she's terrified, but I didn't buy it at all. That really dulls the impact of what you're trying to do. That's really the main reason I disliked this film, there's just no sense of urgency to what's happening here, no real danger. Even when Mia's baby is in danger, you never feel that anything wrong is REALLY gonna happen to them. And that's a big problem. Horror films should be about characters being put into situations they normally wouldn't be in, much as this film, but I don't know what it is about this movie, but it just doesn't pull it off well. Like there's no real reason any of this happening, it's just happening because they had to come up with a story for this spin-off film after The Conjuring was so successful and they wanted to make some money. Hell, they probably took some generic script that had nothing to do with The Conjuring and made some tweaks to the script so it could be sold as the spin-off. One or two decent scares and Alfre Woodward aren't gonna save you. And I really do mean one or two. This film is also incredibly slow paced, so you're gonna be sit there for a LOOOONG period of time before anything truly interesting happens. This was just a failure. Not necessarily on all levels, but it certainly failed on most of them. There's no reason to watch this when it borrows from so many other superior films, that you should watch instead of this. This adds nothing to the horror genre and it'll just be a trivia note in 30 years' time. Avoid this, please.
    Jesse O Super Reviewer
  • Jan 24, 2015
    I personally am of the opinion that The Conjuring was pretty overrated, but I at least I could see why some people thought it was okay. Annabelle on the other hand, was never at any point anything other than hackneyed, unoriginal garbage. No saving graces to be found here.
    Gimly M Super Reviewer
  • Nov 04, 2014
    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-
    Nate Z Super Reviewer

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