Annabelle is one of the worst movies ever made and James Wan needs to, just, quit.
He only serves as a producer for this spin-off of last year’s The Conjuring. That film opened with a creepy doll named Annabelle, and this movie focuses on that doll’s origin. In 1967 during the beginning of the Charles Manson murders, the neighbors of the Gordons, Miya and John (Annabelle Wallis and Ward Horton), are murdered by satanic Helter Skelter cultists,* one of whom possesses the incredibly creepy doll John just got Miya in celebration of their first child. Haunted doll related shenanigans ensue.
This movie is so awful and boring and stupid and, just, every manner of bad thing that can be said about a film, just like everything else in James Wan’s little string of terrible yet bafflingly successful horror movies. Starting with Insidious, which was an offshoot of the Paranormal Activity brood and continuing with Insidious: Chapter 2, The Conjuring and now this turd.
They’re all the same goddamn movie made by the same goddamn people and it’s repetitive and annoying and not even slightly scary.
All details in all of these movies are exactly the same, and they even have the same scene-to-scene structure. They all start with the same, frat house-prank haunting shenanigans, they all continue with unfunny ghostbusters dramatically explaining the difference between ghosts and demons to try and make the audience think the characters are in particular trouble even though all these movies feature the same brand of fiend, they all even have Patrick Wilson’s same neglectful husband face.
Nothing is new. Nothing is interesting. Nothing is scary. The scares in these movies all rely on the speakers being really quiet for a long time, and then suddenly spiking. Everybody said Insidious and The Conjuring executed tropes perfectly and were really scary, but by that logic, Dave Grohl is a master of horror.
They’re even boring to look at. These movies are monochromatic, literally. Daytime, when the sun is supposed to light up a beautiful, colorful world?
Nope. Everything is grey.
IT’S ALL BLACK.
All of these movies are bad, but Annabelle… Annabelle…
This is a movie too apathetic to record its own opening sequence, instead taking the first few minutes directly from The Conjuring. This is a movie in which calls for an ambulance are answered by silently driving police. This is a movie in which most of the scary sounds come from a sewing machine.
Through most of the movie, the actors don’t seem to know their lines. Everyone takes so long to say things, it feels like watching a play in which the audience has to wait for an off-stage prompt for every single line. This is exactly the kind of thing you’re supposed to fix with editing. It didn’t help that the lines were awful. “You are a lot pregnant” is an actual line in this movie.
This John Leonetti’s third time directing in a 23-year career as a cinematographer, and his first two films – Mortal Kombat: Annihilation and the direct-to-DVD Butterfly Effect 2 put the reason why on display. His choice was clearly nepotism on Wan’s part – Leonetti worked with him on Death Sentence, Dead Silence and the other movies in the Insidious semi-series. Either this was supposed to be Leonetti’s time to take the mantle or Wan just didn’t feel like doing it – in any case, he finds a way to make this movie even less interesting than its predecessors.
Despite them being awful, these movies make loads of cash and I have absolutely no idea why. It probably speaks mostly about the state of mainstream horror movies – they are dominated by the work of Wan and Oren Peli, the guy behind Paranormal Activity. The two made one good horror movie a piece – Wan’s was Saw, which turns 10 later this month – and have since dominated the market with lazy, derivative efforts. Most movie genres play off of each other, but there isn’t another one around that is so utterly inbred as horror.
Joshua Knopp is a formerly professional film critic, licensed massage therapist, journalism and film student at the University of North Texas and news editor for the NT Daily. I’ve had a change of heart about reader input. It is now welcomed and encouraged. Like Reel Entropy on Facebook, follow it on Twitter when I can be bothered to make one, and shoot questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Charles Manson’s cult wasn’t Satanic, he was all about inciting an impending race war, but OK