Annabelle (15)



Horror (2014)
99mins US

Starring: Ward Horton, Alfre Woodard, Annabelle Wallis, Tony Amendola
Director: John R Leonetti
Writer(s): Gary Dauberman
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

John and Mia Gordon survive an attack in their home by two murderous members of a satanic cult. The Gordons move to a new apartment but dark forces follow them in the form of a doll in the baby's nursery and drive poor Mia to the brink of a nervous breakdown. She seeks emotional support from local priest Father Perez and a kind bookshop owner called Evelyn.

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LondonNet Film Review
Annabelle (15)

According to the opening credits of Annabelle, dolls have frequently been used as conduits of evil. Modern filmmakers have certainly had great fun transforming inanimate figures into demonic vessels. Anthony Hopkins fell under the spell of a possessive ventriloquist's dummy in Richard Attenborough's 1978 thriller Magic and mannequins ran amok the following year in the gruesome horror, Tourist Trap. In the late 1980s, audiences squealed with delight at opening instalments of the Child's Play and Puppet Master series. More recently on the small screen, Doctor Who and his plucky companions faced malevolent mannequins and creepy life-sized dolls...

Annabelle. Copyright: 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. Caption: A holy man promises to cleanse a possessed doll in Annabelle, directed by John R Leonetti. Photo: Gregory Smith. All Rights Reserved. This prequel to the 2013 supernatural horror The Conjuring fleshes out the blood-soaked history of a garish figurine called Annabelle, which sent chills down the spine in the first film and remains under lock and key in the home of real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. Director John R Leonetti replays the opening scene of The Conjuring then rewinds 12 months to sun-baked 1967 Santa Monica, California where picture perfect couple John (Ward Horton) and Mia Gordon (Annabelle Wallis) are preparing to welcome their first child into the world. Late one night, Mia is woken by a disturbance next door and when John checks on neighbours Pete and Sharon Higgins (Brian Howe, Kerry O'Malley), he and Mia are attacked by two murderous cult members. Police arrive in the nick of time, shooting dead the crazed attackers and spilling the blood of female perpetrator Annabelle Higgins on Mia's favourite limited edition doll. Thankfully, Mia, John and baby daughter Mia survive the hellish ordeal.

"Crazy people do crazy things," explains investigating officer Detective Clarkin (Eric Ladin), who tells the Gordons that the killers were members of a sect called the Disciples of the Ram, who conjure demonic forces with their human sacrifices. The Gordons move to a new apartment but dark forces follow them and drive poor Mia to the brink of a nervous breakdown. She seeks emotional support from local priest Father Perez (Tony Amendola) and kind bookshop owner Evelyn (Alfre Woodard), who buoy the couple's spirits by speculating, "You don't come out of something like this weaker - you come out stronger."

Annabelle appropriates elements of Rosemary's Baby and The Omen for an increasingly silly tale of demonic possession and maternal sacrifice. Director Leonetti achieves a couple of decent scares but when it comes to burrowing deep beneath our skin, both he and scriptwriter Gary Dauberman fall short. Visual effects are sparing which is more than can be said of Joseph Bishara's deafening orchestral heavy that turns up the volume to 11. Wallis works through a dizzying array of screams, shrieks and caterwauls as the plot careens out of control around her, and we eventually lose interest.

- Sam Cannon

Annabelle. Copyright: 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. Caption: Something evil lurks inside a doll in Annabelle, directed by John R Leonetti. All Rights Reserved.


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From Friday 15th September
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