On Film: Annabelle (2014)
This review uses a spoiler-hiding function. Just click the blurred text to see the spoilers!
Released: October 3rd 2014
A couple experiences terrifying supernatural occurrences involving a vintage doll shortly after their home is invaded by satanic cultists.
Look, I don’t get scared.
I get creeped out, sure. I mean when you’re at Halloween Horror Nights and you have something that looks like it’s from Resident Evil following you around, I mean you have that right. Or when your bestfriend conspires against you for a whole horde of zombies to scare the pee out of you – yeah, you get a pass.
But movies? Movies don’t scare me. The last movie that scared me, scared me enough to also scar me. It’s name was Child’s Play. I saw that when I was four. I also saw it more consistently throughout my life (of course because how would I remember that some 24 years later?), because I grew up watching horror movies. Friday the 13th? Nothing. Nightmare on Elm Street? Freddy tucked me in at night and told me bedtime tales. We were buds. He sung me lullabies. I mean the lullabies were about locking my doors and shit but dude, we were tight.
Annabelle though? Me and her are not friends. Just. No.
If you scare easily, don’t see this movie. If dolls scare you, do not see this movie. If you DON’T scare easily, don’t see this movie. It’s… the movie is great. It hit it’s intended purpose and I officially consider James Wan a genius and master of horror films (although you have to also give credit to the other people who worked on the movie since James was just a producer – like John R. Leonetti (director), Gary Dauberman (writer), Hans Ritter (exec producer), Peter… look, just go look at the credits on IMDB.)
Usually when I go to the movies I’m accompanied by my sister, and usually she’s the one that’s jumping out of her seat screaming. She thinks Paranormal Activity is scary… Don’t get me wrong, she was doing that for this movie too, but so was I. Not only did Annabelle manage to scare me, I walked out of the theater with weakness in my knees. I felt the fear that this movie had in my bones.
I think I almost died.
For me, a lot of the fear comes from the fact that the movie is about a doll. I don’t get overly creeped out by dolls in general though. I can pass them in stores and in houses and feel nothing, but when the doll has a story and a past attached to it (like say… Chucky) then I get freaked out.
Annabelle’s story isn’t revolutionary. It’s not something you couldn’t find somewhere else, in fact it’s really similar to the premises of Child’s Play. Evil person does evil thing, is on the verge of getting caught, manages to posses a doll. Not only that but they’re both tied together again by decent storytelling. While Child’s Play is on the cheesy side, it has a story behind it that follows little Andy Barclay well into adulthood and it gives you a reason to care and to keep coming back. With Annabelle it’s mostly the acting that really helps you cement that story and gives you a reason to care. Annabelle Wallis who plays the main character, Mia, is phenomenal at showing fear. Throughout the movie, over and over again you feel like this lady is seriously scared for her life, and not only that but the life of her family. She is amazing at giving you that unsettling feeling in the pit of your stomach that something isn’t right, and if you’ve ever been truly scared before you’ll recognize her mannerisms.
Between Wallis’ acting and the doll itself, they pretty much had the movie in the bag. Add in the suspense that they create by throwing in some of Annabelle’s background and purpose and you get some truly scary shit – especially if you’re of the religious kind. Overall the movie is going to scare the pants off of you. I honestly don’t know how it couldn’t, if it managed to scare the unscarable (ie, me.)
The movie also had another great quality which I was so happy it included: The husband? Believed his wife. The first time. Not after he saw a bunch of crazy things happened and was convinced. No. She said ‘shit isn’t right here’ and he said? Okay, I believe you. WHAT?!
Having said that however, there were a few other tropes in the movie that unfortunately lead back to the whole… women being the weaker of the two sexes, in one way or another. There is one point in the movie where Mia (Wallis’ character) basically all but figures out what is going on, and then she tells her husband, “you have to help us,” falling into his arms. I understand, especially given when this movie is supposed to take place (1969) the reliant nature of a wife to a husband but they had already created such a strong, albeit scared, character in Mia that I wish they would have let her have that to herself. Another trope that I feel like we see time and time again, and especially in horror movies, which is also present in Annabelle, is the mother’s willingness to give her life for her child. I understand this, and especially with newborns that the mother is more than likely to be more attached and understanding of the child than the father. However we don’t really ever see father’s offering themselves up for the taking when it comes to their children, even though they’re traditionally supposed to be the protectors of their families. We kind of got this in Insidious (another James Wan film) but the father is more or less pulled into it more than he’s like, yeah okay [spoiler]I’ll jump out a sixth story window for my child[/spoiler].
All in all, this movie scared the shit outta me. I’m talking like I had trouble walking and wanted to throw up scared. If you want to do that to yourself, man, more power to you! I can promise you though, I will never watch this movie again.
Did I mention we went to see it at noon? So, it wasn’t even dark. Yeah. You guys have fun, I’m going to sit back here and not scare myself to death.