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Annabelle

In theaters October 3, 2014

October is a magical time of year for fans of the horror genre. Although horror movies have had staggered releases in the past several years due to budgetary reasons. January and February seem to be the secondary launchpad. The logical assumption would be that the “quality” movies will have their run during Halloween season while secondary, possibly sleeper hits have their run in the beginning of the year. Annabelle is the first movie up to the plate this time around and has been gathering quite the following ever since the doll was introduced back in the 2013 hit, The Conjuring.

Annabelle starts off in present day then immediately jumps back about a year to cover the events that occurred; an expectant couple preparing for a new addition to the family has no idea about the events that are soon to come. The mother-to-be has an affinity towards dolls so her husband surprises her with a new doll, one that she’s had her eye on for a while. There’s an unfortunate and horrific incident at the neighbor’s house one night that spills over to their residence. The outcome leaves several people dead but who, or what, was left behind is evil in its purest form.

For a movie with so much buzz around it based on the success of its predecessor one might assume that Annabelle would start off with a bang. This not the case. The pace of the film might best be described as a slow dull burn that has its moments of shooting pains. The acting was solid as was the storyline, but overall it fell a little flat. When potentially disturbing moments arose it was almost like someone took the foot off of the throttle and coasted along. Unlike other successful movies of this ilk, Annabelle never really goes for the kill.

Since Annabelle is a doll, those that have deep-seated fears of objects like these will most likely find the movie quite terrifying and will definitely get value out of their dollars spent. Others might find it a bit bland due to the fact we’re dealing with an inanimate object. Expectations need to be set. This not a walking talking killing machine doll like Chucky of Child’s Play fame. It doesn’t even reach the level of interaction like the freaky clown doll in Poltergeist. So what is it that makes the Annabelle doll so terrifying? Well the answer is in the eye of the beholder. Annabelle is a very subjective horror film based on personal fears, more so than most movies. Director, John R. Leonetti and writer, Gary Dauberman, do a decent job justifying how a doll could become cursed and how it goes about doing its evil deeds. They add a layer of realism to the “killer doll” that might calm those who would otherwise slam a movie like this as totally unbelievable.

At the end of the day Annabelle is a case of buyer beware. Your expectations will greatly shape the level of pleasure or displeasure in the movie. It is worth seeing but is not a must see if that makes any sense. Keeping in mind that it’s based on a true story, which adds another layer of creepiness. With a runtime of 98 minutes just don’t expect it to be fast paced. Annabelle is rated R for intense sequences of disturbing violence and terror. It’s in theaters now.

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Movie Reelist Contributor: Carl Wheeler

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