'Annabelle' is a film I went into with some decently high expectations. I think that 'The Conjuring' was one of the top horror films of 2013 and I really did like it overall. James Wan is one of the better horror filmmakers and it really shows in the work he's done over the years. Unfortunately this isn't 'The Conjuring 2' AND James Wan had really nothing to do with this spin off of the aforementioned film. While not awful, as is the consensus you'll most likely see, it does lack a feeling of horror, or really anything at all. Could be paralleled that it is in fact as empty as a given doll's lifeless eyes.
'Annabelle' follows the story of John and Mia Form (Ward Horton and Annabelle Wallis) as they are young married couple getting ready to have their first child. One day, in 1967, John gives Mia a doll that she has been trying to find. Immediately Mia adds the doll to her collection. One night, Mia hears a murder occurring at their neighbors house, the Higgins, and is attacked by a woman holding the doll and an accomplice. The police finally arrive and kill the accomplice while the woman kills herself. It is revealed on the news that the woman was Annabelle Higgins, and that she and her boyfriend murdered her parents and were also apart of a satanic cult. Strange things begin to happen to Mia before she tells John to throw it out. Later on a fire broke out in the kitchen, presumed to be caused by the doll, and as Mia is running out of the house she trips, falls and sends herself into labor. Mia ends up having a healthy baby girl, they name Lea, and the couple moves into a new apartment. As they are unpacking her dolls, they found one they thought they discarded, the doll now known as Annabelle. More strange and spooky activity begins happening to them again. John and Mia are at their wits end, because Annabelle is terrorizing every aspect of their lives.
The biggest problem with 'Annabelle' is it's lack of well, anything. It's a very predictable movie where a whole lot of nothing happens. Sure you have the set-up at the beginning, the fire scene and the scenes that ended the film. But that's only 20 minutes out of this film that is already slow and overly long. The movie is well over an hour and a half and a lot of the time you're watching a whole lot of pointless character development that simply isn't all that needed. It's so frustrating to go into a film like this, when the movie it's inspired by is so good, to have to force yourself to stay with it. It's not even that bad of a film. The story and lore is okay, the music is alright and the acting isn't terribly awful either. The problem is everything surrounding all of what could turn out to be decent, is bad. The pacing is brutally slow at times, the overall creepy factor of the Annabelle doll wears quickly, there's far too many jump scare attempts and it just plain feels like a stereotypical bad horror film. The biggest reason for this is James Wan himself. Not that what he did was bad, it was the fact that he was merely a producer in this. He's fine as a producer, always has been. When you can get James Wan as a director, you turn a film like 'SAW V' into 'The Conjuring'. He's that good of a director and he's always been a favorite of mine over the last decade or so. I can think of one thing that could have helped this movie as well. It would be more of a back-story on the cult that Annabelle Higgins was in and why the doll was used in the rituals. I'm sure there is countless other things you could do to help this film, but that's just one suggestion that would intrigue me.
'Annabelle' is a film that suffers from a lack of originality. Jump scares have been overdone in horror for years, while the length, combined with lack of real creepiness exuding from Annabelle, hurts this further. The acting is never bad, it just doesn't have anywhere to go. The story is fine, but they really don't do anything special with it. It's a shame because the overall look and sound of the movie was actually pretty spooky. 'Annabelle' is a movie that really didn't to be made. Whether you call it an experimental film to test the waters or a desperate cash-in on a successful film, it's one that really doesn't need to be viewed more than once.