Friday, October 3, 2014

Film Review: Annabelle

Copyright: Warner Bros. Pictures
Creepy dolls strike again in Annabelle, proving that grown up people can only safely play with them if they are a character in Space Balls.  Unlike the newest sequel of Chucky, who prefers to do his own killing, in this film, Annabelle is a hellish doll with a lot more class and a more Hitchcock-like approach to terrifying its owners.

Set in the 70’s, the film opens with an ideal young couple who is expecting a baby. After an incident involving Manson family wannabe members, they begin to experience odd occurrences in their home, which all seem to be somehow connected to a vintage doll that they recently brought into their home.

John R. Leonetti directed the film in what can now be called the Horror Way of James Wan. This means that the film doesn’t employ CG techniques and relies heavily on slow camera pans, an action that takes place in several layers of depth and a creepy expectation underlined by music and sounds. At several occasions, Leonetti demonstrates an incredible ability to edit things to a nightmare level of terror (the scene of the little girl rushing into a closing door, for example), and his broader approach is very welcome in the world of handheld, shaky cameras.

At its best moments, the film is a truly terrifying experience of constant expectation, while at the same time the doll itself never becomes a worn-out horror trophy. In many aspects, Annabelle seems like a classic tale of fright, which is at times unmistakably similar to the films like Rosemary’s Baby. Annabelle Wallis, the actress who plays the main character Mia Gordon adds to this feeling with her calm demeanor and reassuring presence, but who still gradually seeps deeper into despair as things continue to escalate.
The only problem which plagues this film is a relative lack of culmination in the visual sense. The story takes place in one house and one apartment, and it newer leaves them. This is a bit of a letdown when it comes to the overall tempo, making the ending somewhat unworthy of the strongest part of the movie.

The thing that seems really exciting to me is the fact that the film crosses into the storyline of The Conjuring, so I’m guessing (there is probably a lot of info on this already, but who cares about research) that Wan is planning to create some sort of a weird horror universe where more films are going to take place.

This can only mean more great films in a genre that always needs a solid source of not-dumb horror films. Annabelle is without a doubt one of these.

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