Any die hard horror fan will tell you that in recent years, horror (at least mainstream horror) has gone far down hill from what it use to be. The same ideas are rehashed and reused, until there is simply no money left. In the 80's it was slashers, today it's haunting and found footage films. I admit, a lot of these haunting films actually provide some pretty decent scares. However, many fall far below the line of great films. Just look at the two that were suppose be last Octobers Halloween blockbusters, and recently got respective home video releases. [Annabelle](movie:1217914) and Ouija.
Annabelle is the Prequel (if you can call it that) to the 2013 "based on a true story" horror hit The Conjuring. Unlike The Conjuring, Annabelle is not based on the Warren case file and is not "based on a true story." Although it is marketed as such. Still I was excited to give it a shot when I accompanied a group of friends to the theater last October. The hour and a half plus that followed was pretty awful. With a decent beginning, Annabelle offers little more than a compilation of predictable "edge of your seat build up" scenes with no pay off. I will give you a prime example in the following spoiler.
There is a scene where the lead woman is in the basement. She hears a noise and runs to the elevator. Rather than go up, the elevator closes and reopens. Leading the audience to believe that a demon (or something) is going to charge her from the darkness. The elevator proceeds to open and close between 3-6 times (I lost count) each adding more build up. Before cutting to the woman safe in her apartment. NO PAY OFF! From what i am told, there is better pay off in the home video version. However i have not seen it.
You can see the obvious James Wan (Annabelle's Producer) influence through out the film. As many of the build up scenes resemble scenes from Wan's Insidious films. Factor in the use of The Conjuring music box, which had nothing to do with Annabelle in the original film. Alongside a predictable bad ending, made Annabelle a watchable film at best.
Anyone who knows me, knows I have an automatic dislike for Micheal Bay (Ouija's Producer) and I have to admit I laughed when I spotted a Micheal Bay style explosion in [Ouija](movie:469746)'s trailer. However my dislike for Bay aside, Ouija is more or less the same as Annabelle. Lots of predictable build up with no pay off. Partway through the film I turned to a friend and commented "Is it me or does this seem like another Insidious knock off?" My friend nodded and we continued watching. Not ten minutes later Insidious star Lin Shaye appears in the film. See below spoiler for more.
Shaye is a previous occupant of the house where the activity is taking place. Although at first I laughed at the irony. Shaye does what she does best and honestly her presence in the film was the only enjoyable part for me.
The events that followed were, yet again a bad predictable ending. Making Ouija, decent at best.
To close, both Annabelle and Ouija were (in my opinion) watchable. Nothing special. Offering little more than repetitive gimmicks that came in the films of the past. Then again, that's a lot of what horror is. When done right, it's part of what I love about the genre. These two films, just didn't do it for me. These are decent starter film for a girlfriend, boyfriend, or friend who is just getting into horror. But don't let my opinion be the only one. Chime in below.