A creepy looking doll, possessed by a deranged woman, stalks and kills people. A shuddersome concept, right?
When Annabelle came out in 2014, I couldn’t wait to watch it. The Conjuring had been scary for me and I had hoped Annabelle would give me nightmares. It had the potential to do so considering the concept. But what it had turned out to be was an insipid movie that was frustrating to watch. The doll wouldn’t even blink. The so-called ‘horror’ scenes were just bland.
When the sequel was announced, I wasn’t going to bother with it, as I expected it to be just as dull as the first.
Miraculously, it is actually NOT dull. The story takes place long before the first when the doll was created by Samuel Mullins. He did have a happy family: a beautiful, compassionate wife and a sweet little seven-year-old girl, he calls Bee.
Then a horrible accident takes place and Bee is killed.
Twelve years later, the Mullins lend their home to a nun who has no other place to take the orphaned girls. One of the girls, Janice, has polio and Samuel generously offers to let her use the chairlift to go upstairs. The older girls don’t play nice with Janice and her best friend Linda. The two only have each other and promise to never be separated even if one of them gets adopted.
There is that cliched tacit rule of not opening one of the doors in the house, one that Janice breaks anyway. In there, is where she finds the doll.
From here on, the doll keeps calling out to Janice in eerie ways, threatening to possess her. Janice must use her faith to not fall prey to the evil doll. Unfortunately, it isn’t enough. She does get possessed and it is up to Linda to try and get her friend back.
She fails at doing so. The doll is possessed not by the Mullins’ daughter who was named Annabelle, but by a demon who had tricked the parents into thinking it was her. The demon needed punishment to haunt them. How nice.
A story to learn: Never ever invite any ghost/demon to stay. People keep making that mistake with the Annabelle doll for some reason. Just say no and no evil supernatural forces will be invited to haunt you.
Back to the movie, the movie doesn’t do much to create suspense or frightening scenes. In fact, in the first half, the camera work gives the impression of sitting on a roller coaster. However, the first half does have a ‘put-your-popcorn-bowl-to-the-side’ moment when Annabelle makes her presence known. The scenes in the bedroom are creepy and nightmare-inducing.
The second half lags and disappoints. The intentions of the demon are not made clear. He wants to kill or wreak havoc? He already has the doll, has already possessed Janice, what does it want to do exactly?
And if it does require an invitation, when exactly did Janice give permission to enter her? Or does it only work if the demon wants to enter the doll? In one instance it’s the doll, in the other, it possesses a scarecrow. If it is that powerful to be in two places at once, why doesn’t it manage to actually kill?
Not that I would want the girls to be hurt, but when you have a villain, in this case, a demon, you want to know why it does what it does. And how exactly.
It doesn’t help that the tired old scenes of being dragged back, is plentiful in this movie. After some time, it gets boring and there really is nothing new in here to frighten and haunt your dreams.
I also felt it tried too hard to connect to the movies it has spun off from. The photograph of the nun (The Conjuring 2) and the last scene that connects it to the first Annabelle movie- most of it didn’t seem required considering Janice looks nothing like the deranged killer who attacks in the first movie.
I did like the way the actual Annabelle doll was gifted to Janice by her adoptive parents. The original Annabelle doll was pretty innocent looking but that poor thing didn’t have the ‘looks’ to make it as the protagonist of horror movies. Poor thing!
The movie could have been scarier. It could have defined the antagonist better. The second half needed better writing. Otherwise, most of it has been seen in other horror movies and can be quite repetitive.
Still, the acting is good and the Annabelle doll does look scary.
Especially when it turns to look at you. Right at the very end.