By Cynthia Rzucidlo
Box office and horror hit Annabelle (2014), directed by John R. Leonetti and starring Ward Horton and Annabelle Wallis, was finally released onto Blu-ray and DVD on January 27, 2015. The Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack contains special features such as deleted scenes, the true story of the Annabelle curse and a featurette on the making of the film. Annabelle was one of the most heavily advertised horror films of 2014, in wide-release and mainstream cinema. The spin-off sister-film to the Conjuring (2013) directed by James Wan, promised to be one of the most frightening films in years. However, mainstream horror films tend not to be as macabre or disturbing as fans would like to see, since they are meant to appeal to a broader audience.
Annabelle begins with the exact same opening scene as The Conjuring, which features two girls explaining to the famous paranormal team Ed and Lorraine Warren about their possessed doll. The film takes us back exactly one year, to 1970, where the audience is then introduced to our main characters Mia and John Gordon. James Wan’s The Conjuring setting was more authentic than this prequel. The character of Mia Gordon played by Annabelle Wallis seems to slightly play on Mia Farrow’s Rosemary from the Roman Polanski classic, Rosemary’s Baby (1968).
Annabelle, the then unpossessed doll, is a gift from Mia’s husband. The same night she receives the doll, satanic cultists brutally murder their neighbors. They then sneak into the Gordon's home, where all hell breaks loose and the doll becomes a conduit for a demonic entity. (I will refrain from giving too many details.) In my opinion this scene was the most frightening part of the entire film. The cultists (particularly the female) combined with the cinematic elements of this scene and the score, made for a quite terrifying ensemble.
Throughout the rest of the film, the Gordons are stalked and haunted by the demonic entity, and the spirit of the female cultist named Annabelle. The film is good for a few scares, despite its use of overwhelming CGI, definitely a big budget film. I jumped in my seat more than once, which isn’t completely easy to do. Although I’m not one for CGI monsters, the demon is frightening in scenes where the lighting is dark and the graphics are not so obvious. The spirit which haunts the Annabelle doll is the most startling, especially when she appears as a child and runs through a doorway toward Mia, coming out the other side as her horrific self.
Mia attempts to destroy the paranormal entities which follow her family with the help of her new, experienced friend Evelyn and a book called “Welcome the Devil,” (another play on Rosemary’s Baby). I will not spoil the end of the film, however this movie seems to work as an allegory for love and sacrifice. Despite a few clichés and slight lack of originality, Annabelle is a decent horror film.