Creep­ing, stalk­ing liv­ing doll

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Cinema -

Re­lease Date: OUT NOW! 15 | 99 min­utes Distrib­u­tor: Warner Di­rec­tor: John R Leonetti Cast: Annabelle Wal­lis, Ward Hor­ton, Al­fre Woodard,

Tony Amen­dola

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.

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