Last night, my better half and I went to see Annabelle. It wasn’t anything we’d planned on doing, but we had no other Friday night plans, so we took off and biked the four miles to our local theatre. Let me start off by saying I’m not a huge fan of seeing horror movies in theatres since I can’t cower under a blanket if the going gets rough, but this was worth every moment. Not to mention the added bonus of whispers of, “Oh, sh*t,” and “Don’t go in there!” from fellow movie-goers.
I was a big fan of Insidious, so when The Conjuring came out, I was excited to see it. [Annabelle](movie:1217914) is the story of the doll at the beginning of [The Conjuring](movie:600664). Since I hadn’t read much about the synopsis, I wasn’t sure what it was going to be. I figured it’d be about the roommates who inherited the doll and had it exorcised. But actually, it took place even before that. It was the very origin of the story.
The film is about Mia and John Gordon (Mia being a slightly obvious homage to Rosemary’s Baby). The couple is a happy late 60’s portrait on their way to becoming a family. Mia is pregnant with their first child, so her husband buys her a very rare vintage doll to add to her vast collection. Now, the film takes place around the time of the Manson murders, so that’s a recurring theme.
WARNING! SPOILERS BEYOND THIS POINT. IF YOU’D RATHER WATCH THE MOVIE, SKIP TO THE LAST PARAGRAPH.
When the Gordon’s next door neighbors are brutally murdered, Mia is awoken by their screams. John goes down to explore, and when he finds them, yells for Mia to phone an ambulance. While inside, the murderers make their way to the Gordon house and attack them, stabbing Mia is her very pregnant stomach. But John fends them off long enough for the police to shoot and kill both intruders, whom it turns out are the neighbors' estranged daughter, Annabelle, and her boyfriend who had run away to join a cult. The last image Mia sees before being put in the ambulance is Annabelle holding the doll while bloods drips down its painted face.
At this point, I was afraid the film was going to veer toward being a Child’s Play kind of thing, but was pleasantly surprised. Mia and the baby survive, but the doll starts to seriously freak her out. And one day while John is at work, a terrible fire starts in the kitchen, forcing the bedridden Mia to try and flee the home. But something has other plans. As she is screaming for help, she trips on an upturned rug, falling tummy first. And as she tries to crawl toward the door, something pulls her back to the kitchen. At the last moment, neighbors hear her screams and save her from the fire. Their baby girl is born that night, and they lovingly name her Leah. It’s at this point Mia tells John to throw the doll away and move.
The new apartment in Pasadena, CA seems like an okay place to raise a baby. Even though the upstairs neighbors tend to fight a lot. And everything is going rather normally until Mia gets to the last packed box and finds the doll. John suggests throwing it out again, but she decides to keep it. Inevitably, freaky things start happening again. Mia is seeing things, books are getting tossed at her baby, and the doll is moving around seemingly on its own. Eventually, she learns of the cult and how the neighbor’s daughter was summoning demons. And those demons were attached to the doll. Upon reading some books on the occult and speaking to her pastor, Mia finds out that the demon wants someone’s soul. Someone vulnerable. Someone weak.
I’ll leave it there instead of further spoiling it for our readers. I’ll say that Annabelle is much much better than The Conjuring. I’m not one for jump scares, but this film does it right. Jarring you one moment then building up the next, so you never know when it’s coming. The visuals are insanely stunning, and I was very unnerved at most of the demon’s appearances. Select key scenes with manifestations of the daughter Annabelle are also extremely well done. I very much recommend this film to anyone who enjoys movies in the vein of The Exorcist or Insidious. Go and see! You won’t be disappointed.