Last year I was unfortunate enough to catch not one, but TWO of the worst horror movies (and maybe two of the worst, just plain, movies released in 2014) of 2014 IN THE THEATER, which means I wasted a lot of money and gas, twice! Here’s a review of the first, which was the second worst.
In a single word, I can sum up this entire review for the kinda-sorta prequel to The Conjuring, Annabelle: Boring. Now to extrapolate.
First, let’s make one thing very clear, there will be no comparing and contrasting to The Conjuring, as the films aren’t really even done by the same director, writer, or actors. They probably share a producer credit or two and Annabelle is directed by the DP for The Conjuring, but that’s where the similarities stop. As much as I disliked this movie, I would be doing the wrong thing if I compared it to the much better film, The Conjuring. So you won’t find any of that here.
Annabelle is a good example of a big thing done badly, rushed into production after The Conjuring’s success last year, it is now clear that the script, which was also rushed, was very weak. It reminds me of Scary Movie and Scary Movie 2, where I loved the first one, but absolutely hated the second one. The only reason I could attribute the problem to, was that Scary Movie 2 was rushed through production to be in theaters the following summer after Scary Movie became such a surprisingly huge hit. It was less than eight months between the twos theatrical release.
You need to take your time when making a movie, you have to go through each step of the process over and over until it’s as close to finished as anything ever can be (nothing is ever a ‘finished’ quality, and if it you see your project as finished, you’re settling for mediocrity). The people behind this film clearly didn’t do that.
But let’s forget about that and just judge what they gave us. The film just isn’t interesting, and it certainly isn’t scary. It plods along, dragging us kicking and screaming through every character revelation we’ve already figured out, every scare we saw coming from miles away, and every twist that was either obvious from the get go, or was so ridiculous it takes you right out of the experience of watching the film to go “What the hell were they thinking?”
It’s copy-pasted together almost like a connect-the-dots puzzle. This scene goes with that scene, that scene goes with this scene. It seems logical enough in its progression, but what this film needed was something to kick up that progression a notch or five.
I will give it credit for how it presented Annabelle, the doll, not the actress Annabelle Wallis, who plays the protagonist, Mia. As it is explained in The Conjuring that the doll is possessed, therefore it is a conduit for evil, rather than the embodiment of evil, like Chucky from the Child’s Play series of films. Because of this, Annabelle never moves on its own, it isn’t running around causing all the chaos and what the filmmakers hoped would translate as horror. This was a huge relief for me, as I knew that would be a silly move, and even sillier to see. The doll moving about would have taken any chilling effect that the doll may have had, and completely done away with it. So at least they got that right.
Unfortunately, when it comes to Annabelle, that’s about all they did right. Especially egregious, is what they did to poor Alfre Woodward’s character Evelyn. Evelyn, when you think about it, has no real purpose to being in this story except during the endgame in the last ten minutes of the film (which, by the way, was boring and almost completely devoid of tension), but the rest of the film her character feels tacked on, and like a square peg trying to fit through a round hole. She just doesn’t belong. Her introduction is something to be attributed to a minor character, and her continued—and strengthened—relationship with Mia is far-fetched and really over-reaching. It almost feels like they didn’t have enough movie to begin with and no justifiable ending, so they went through and cast Evelyn to do a series of reshoots to re-shape the film. It’s that glaringly stupid.
In the end, again, all of this could have been summed up by one word: boring. Feel free to skip this one, I wish I had, but nooooooo, I went and saw it in theaters. This movie robbed me of a valuable 80-something-minutes of my life and the most valuable twenty bucks I’ve ever had. Dear everyone behind this film, suck a bag of dicks. The end.