The Conjuring was a decent success with many elements being executed nicely. The cast was perfection. The clothing and set design was on point. All in all it was a solid movie with a clear vision. So it is no surprise that fans were eager to see the story of the doll, Annabelle (who made a cameo appearance in The Conjuring). For the record, this will contain spoilers.
The movie begins with some nursing students talking to the demon fighting couple, The Warrens (though we never see them). They explain about the doll and strange activities centered around it. Then, we jump to our lead characters, John and Mia (played by Ward Horton and Annabelle Wallis). Two of the most model-tastic actors I've ever seen in a horror. They were gorgeous and both wore enough make-up to be Maybelline spokespersons. Why is this a problem? Relatability. Unlike the family in The Conjuring, who seemed like the average American family that we can see living next door to us, Mia and John appeared "privileged" and fake. That in itself was almost creepy. Even as all hell broke loose for Mia, her hair and make-up maintained, with no visual signs of her suffering.
So Barbie and Ken...I mean...Mia and John are church-goers living it up in the 60's, expecting a child in an increasingly dangerous world (unnecessary foreshadowing by Mia). They live in an almost Stepford quality neighborhood that has birds singing, children-playing and the whole nine yards. Things are great until a pair of deranged cult members come in and here's where our possessed doll comes into play. Everything surrounding the "bizarre incidents" are perfect in their predictability. Children were drawing pictures on the stairwell. You should know that creepy kid pictures will be involved. Mia walks past a bookstore and OF COURSE there's a demon book in the window (because that really draws in the customers). Everything is perfectly placed, from props to plot devices to the scares. If you know it's coming, it isn't exactly horrifying.
Non-perfect moments were in there, too. For example, the number of times Mia left her baby in a room by itself (even after she had been repeatedly attacked) is criminal. What parent wouldn't have that crib firmly planted in their bedroom or take the baby with them when they go into the creepy storage room alone?
Another non-perfect moment was Alfre Woodard as Evelyn, the housemaid...no, wait she was a bookstore owner who believed in the supernatural due to her own history. Woodard is an amazing actress, but it looked as if she had been drugged and shoved in front of the camera. I'm almost certain if you freeze-frame her last scene, you'll see her reaching for her paycheck so she can get the hell out of there. Her character was the quintessential doomsayer and exposition plant (think the Native American guide from Poltergeist 2, the old "death curse" man from the original Friday the 13th, or the useless black psychic from Jeepers Creepers). They are there to make wild leaps from point A to B, because the writers couldn't think of a clever way to get the information out there to audiences. Hollywood thinks we are too stupid to get subtlety.
The scares that weren't seen coming a mile away were utterly ridiculous. Annabelle apparently can make demons appear, slam doors, and smack a priest 20 feet back putting him in the hospital, but her method of choice when torturing Mia was setting some stove-top popcorn on fire.
My last straw was fortunately the last scene in which a woman goes into a second hand store and sees a burned, dirty, cracked-faced Annabelle on a shelf and exclaims that it is perfect for her daughter who is a nurse. Does she hate her daughter? Does her nurse daughter need something that looks like it has been in a terrible wreck to practice healthcare on? Come on. Even new, Annabelle looked deranged. The store owner also says that the doll is rare and that's why the price is so high. Annabelle was sporting some serious damage to her aesthetics, so one must think that the store owner as well as the nurse's mother have never heard of "mint condition" when pricing collectibles.
There was one moment in the entire movie that gave tension. It was Mia in the elevator trying to leave the storage room. It was the same kind of mood that should have been shared with all of the other scenes.
The wait for [Annabelle](movie:1217914) was not long enough. This movie needed about 4 or 5 more re-writes to make it messier. It needed to be misguided, darker, and make daring choices. It needed a more creative director and writing team. It was Nickelodeon doing horror, which is unfair when making a movie based on a true story. Here's to hoping the next installment will be perfectly imperfect.