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  • Writer's pictureStephen Yanni

Annabelle (2014) - A Mixed Bag of Horror

Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5 stars)

Released 10-03-2014

Watched 08-12-2023

Reviewed 08-14-2023

Rented From Amazon Prime Video


"The loveliest masterpiece of the heart of God is the heart of a mother."


2014's "Annabelle" sought to delve deeper into the eerie backstory of the malevolent doll that captured the audience's attention in "The Conjuring." Positioned in the increasingly popular universe of Ed and Lorraine Warren’s paranormal investigations, there was much anticipation and potential surrounding this spin-off. However, while the film does offer some noteworthy elements, it fails to deliver on the promise of its predecessor consistently.


Set in the 1960s, the period detail is commendably crafted, creating a vintage aura that is as much a character of the story as any other. The antiquated surroundings and the decade's societal backdrop lend themselves beautifully to the eerie narrative, and the production does a fair job in immersing viewers into that time. Annabelle Wallis's performance as Mia is particularly praiseworthy. She brings a genuine emotion and vulnerability that heightens the tension, making viewers root for her as she navigates the nightmarish scenarios.


The film also provides some effective jump-scares. These moments, though perhaps a tad formulaic, will certainly jolt viewers out of their seats. The cinematography and sound design, vital elements in horror, combine to make some scenes deeply unsettling. One cannot deny the chills the titular doll brings whenever it appears on screen.


However, herein lies the crux of the matter: "Annabelle" often relies too heavily on these traditional horror techniques. While jump-scares can be effective, they can also feel cheap and overused, detracting from a more nuanced psychological horror experience. The story becomes somewhat predictable, and the narrative often seems to play second fiddle to these scare tactics. In comparison to "The Conjuring," which masterfully built its tension, "Annabelle" often feels as though it's following a checklist of horror tropes.


Furthermore, the character development, apart from Mia, felt shallow. A stronger connection to the characters would have raised the stakes even higher, making each terrifying moment all the more impactful.


"Annabelle" is a mixed bag. While it offers a visually stimulating experience, solid acting from its lead, and a handful of genuinely frightening moments, it falls short in terms of depth and innovation. It's a decent watch for fans of the horror genre and those curious about Annabelle's origins, but it lacks the finesse and intricate storytelling of some of its contemporaries. It's a ride with some thrilling highs but also noticeable lows.

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