(The gist: I had no desire to see a horror movie about a haunted doll; however, the quality of The Conjuring convinced me to audition Annabelle. While Annabelle is sufficiently creepy and unnerving and a decent movie, it simply does not live up to its predecessor.)
When I saw the trailers for Annabelle, I had absolutely no desire to see it. I had zero interest, curiosity, nothing. The idea of a haunted doll just seemed beyond stupid to me (despite how funny Chucky can be). However, then I saw The Conjuring, which I absolutely loved, so I was willing to at least give Annabelle a chance.
Annabelle is sort of a spin off prequel to The Conjuring. The possessed doll appears in The Conjuring, though it is not central to the plot. So the film chronicles the story of the Annabelle doll prior to it coming into the possession of the Warrens, who do not even appear in the film.
John gives the doll to his pregnant wife, Mia, who seems to have a bit of a thing for creepy dolls as she populates the nursery with them though they do not know the gender of the baby. However, John and Mia are attacked by their neighbors’ satanic estranged daughter, who propels an evil spirit into the doll by slitting her throat and bleeding into the doll’s eye.
From there, the spirit within the doll torments mostly Mia in attempt to get her to give up her soul.
The whole premise is not exactly my flavor of blood. Initially, I was going to avoid the movie altogether based on the haunted doll plot. Dolls are creepy even in real life, yes, but the idea simply did not do it for me as a horror movie. I find that creepy dolls are best placed in the periphery of a horror movie rather than being the main subject matter.
That being sad, like its predecessor, The Conjuring, Annabelle has some parts and aspects that were simply creepy as hell. The suspense is properly constructed; the scenes are well executed; the imagery works. And in all of those things, I did enjoy the movie.
I was interested and entertained for the duration of the film, which ultimately makes a successful movie. Annabelle just is nothing exceptional beyond that for me. The Conjuring is a superior movie both in premise and as a movie itself. I would not consider Annabelle to be of the same caliber; however, I could appreciate it as a tangent or complimentary story.
Annabelle is by no means a bad horror movie; it merely pales in comparison to The Conjuring and could not overcome the banality of its core plot element (for me).