James Wan has made a name for himself over the last 10 or so years as making good (mostly) horror films, Insidious: Chapter 2, Saw and The Conjuring just to name a few. Unfortunately Anabelle (2014) will not be another one on that list. The John R. Leonetti directed film could have been half an hour and it would have been more entertaining, the first two thirds are predictable and boring to say the least. There are many things that Anabelle did wrong and the first error may have been deciding who to get or was available to write this prequel/spin off to The Conjuring based on the haunted doll. You would think that someone as successful as James Wan would have learnt from errors made in the past. It would be fair to say that Insidious Chapter 2 is better than is predecessor, It could be argued that this is because both insidious films have the same people involved in the writing, James Wan and Leigh Whannell. This allowed Insidious Chapter 2 to learn from the mistakes of Insidious, whereas Anabelle is not written by the twin brothers Carey and Chad Haynes who wrote The Conjuring and for me, it shows. Taking out the first hour or so and ignoring that most of the best parts are all stolen from other films, it’s not bad. Anabelle is just so unoriginal all the way through the film you’re reminded of others, and you can’t help but notice that the others did it better. Also I’m not sure what this fascination with Darth Maul like demons is about, but it doesn’t work. At all.
Anabelle is set before The Conjuring and tells the tale of how the doll that appears in The Conjuring becomes possessed. Whilst having good foundations for Anabelle, it almost becomes over complicated and there is unnecessary depth to the story that it prevents it from making sense and slightly contradicts The Conjuring. Anyway, the film has two main characters, Mia (Annabelle Wallis) and John Form (Ward Horton). The film starts with Mia being pregnant and they are trying to prepare the baby’s room, this leads to John buying a doll to add to the collection, I don’t need to say what doll it is, it’s pretty obvious. One night their neighbours are attack by two crazy, cult driven people, due to one of the crazy pair dying whilst holding the doll that was purchased earlier by John, the woman’s blood drips on to the doll and hence starts the possessing of the doll.
As the film goes on Mia, who was already pregnant at the start of the film has her baby and the hauntings get increasingly worse despite the couple moving house. At the this point the films seems to be improving slightly, creepy jump scares here and there show promise but when it finally starts to get slightly tense it’s ruined by the demon that looks like a black version of the demon in Insidious and the demon was pretty shit then so god knows when it was even considered is puzzling. With the ‘hauntings’ becoming too much for Mia and John, she decides to do more research on her attackers and like many films, she notices a reoccurring symbol which reveals the intent of the attackers. A friend of Mia named Evelyn (Alfre Woodward) is knowledgeable with ghosts and ghouls and ends up helping Mia with her ‘demon’ problem.
Sadly, this film didn’t live up to The Conjuring and doesn’t deserve to be mentioned alongside The Conjuring. Annabelle is a predictable, poorly delivered film and most likely disappointed a large amount of the audience despite the few jumpy scenes. If you’ve ever watched a paranormal horror film you’ve seen this and this isn’t going to blow you away or leave you staying up all night in fear. Even the easily pleased won’t be ecstatic with this, it’s hard to look at the positives. However, the cinematography is fantastic, it’s just a shame that what’s happening lets it down. I would also praise the music however it’s pretty much the same as The Conjuring, if the film had been better I would have probably given it praise. Have fun if you decide/decided to watch this, let me know what you thought?