“”Annabelle” has so much potential, most of which it doesn’t live up to.”
I have seen some God-awful, cringe-worthy movies, which John Leonetti‘s Annabelle thankfully isn’t; though it is is in a way worse because it had the potential to be so much more than it ended up being, which is a passable horror movie, a trifle that you almost instantly forget upon learning the theater (which is mainly due to the movie’s tendency to play it safe, when daring was called for).
Annabelle is a prequel to The Conjuring, and you can see and feel that movie’s DNA all over the place, like a violent crime scene minutes before the arrival of a forensics team. It’s not a bad thing, though it may have something to do with Annabelle never really feeling like its own movie, instead seemingly content to exist in the shadow of the latter.
Which is a pity because there’s a scene toward the end of the movie–if it had been allowed to play out–would have been like a punch to the solar plexus, and resulted in significantly elevating the material.
Though instead we get an ending that some might consider a bit of a cop-out, where a character sacrifices themselves for people they barely knew (which could have worked if the character were better fleshed out).
Another problem was that atmosphere was sacrificed at the altar of the jump scare, which killed any change the movie had at building terror on the slow burn; the best kind.
Another smaller issue was that the doll was ghastly looking long before any demonic possession took place, which made it an odd choice for the film makers to use. The possessed doll was supposed to have been a Raggedy Ann, which I think theatrically would have worked better just because it looks innocent and generic, as opposed to a toy that could have been assembled by the Devil himself.
I mentioned earlier that the movie relied on jump scares, which movies tend to do when they don’t have enough atmosphere to hold them together. It’s a pity because there’s a terrifying movie somewhere in Annabelle waiting to get out.
I know this because you can see hints of its presence all over the place, just before they’re snuffed out, stillborn.