In James Wan's 2013 horror hit ‘The Conjuring,’ there was this creepy looking antique wooden doll with a rictus grin that’s decidedly unsettling in the collection of that movie’s paranormal investigators, Ed and Lorraine Warren. The doll was purportedly possessed, according to the testimony of her former owners. In the spin-off 'Annabelle,' we get the history behind this unique item in the Warrens' cabinet of curiosities.
Set in year 1969, the story of 'Annabelle' centers around the lovely young couple of John and Mia Gordon. John is a young doctor-in-training and his pretty young wife is pregnant with their first baby. John gave 'Annabelle' to a surprised Mia as a gift, since Mia has been unsuccessfully looking for this rare doll and had all but given up on it. As decent, church-going Catholics, God only knows why Mia wanted it. But no matter, how else are we supposed to have a movie, right? As you might expect, strange occurrences started happening to the Gordons, like the stove and sewing machine turning on inexplicably by themselves as if these inanimate objects have minds of their own, or some neighbor kids drawing 'flip book' pictures of their baby's stroller getting run over by a truck. Are these supposed to be scary?
The problem with 'Annabelle' is that, by the time we learn that the doll is possessed by the demonic spirit (big surprise) of a 'Helter Skelter' cult member who attacked and killed her parents in one of the movie's earlier scenes, the movie had long lost its momentum. Really, 'Annabelle' would have been much scarier had she shuffled around à la Chucky with a knife in her hand.Grade: C