Creeping, stalking living doll
Release Date: OUT NOW! 15 | 99 minutes Distributor: Warner Director: John R Leonetti Cast: Annabelle Wallis, Ward Horton, Alfre Woodard,
There are some fine
scares in Annabelle. Gory home invasion, the ghost of a teen cultist, creepy kids’ drawings, a demon in the basement… This sort- of prequel, sort- of spin- off of last year’s The Conjuring chucks everything at the screen, as young mother Mia ( Annabelle Wallis) is tormented by a doll from her collection. It’s the 1960s and the doll was cursed during a ritualistic murder- suicide deal in the suburbs, y’see.
But the story is muddled and unconvincing, not bothering to establish the rules of its own narrative. Is it a ghost story, an Exorcist- style tale of possession or a monster movie? The eponymous doll herself, apart from looking so gross no sane person would keep her in their house, mostly does eff all. Key plot and character points are tackled cheaply: news footage of the Sharon Tate case plays on TV in case you’d missed the parallel, and there’s no subtext; it could be an interesting metaphor for postpartum depression but the story deftly sidesteps any attempts at depth, and things we’re told early on – babies in the womb sense everything that happens to the mother! – are completely irrelevant later. A clumsy script has Mia pondering aloud: “How do I stop it?” And when the climax arrives, the evil force tormenting her takes to actually scrawling instructions on the walls of her flat.
Annabelle is well acted, slickly produced and will make you jump – such a shame it all somehow adds up to less than the sum of its parts. Dave Bradley As with The Conjuring, the story is based on a true case investigated by Amityville’s Ed and Lorraine Warren.