Director: John R. Leonetti
Cast: Ward Horton, Annabelle Wallis, Alfre Woodard
Release Date: Own it today on Blu-Ray Combo Pack, DVD & Digital HD
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 6.5/10
Disc Rating: 8.5/10
She terrified you in “The Conjuring,” but this is where it all began for Annabelle. Capable of unspeakable evil, the actual doll exists locked up in an occult museum in Connecticut—visited only by a priest who blesses her twice a month.
New Line Cinema’s supernatural thriller “Annabelle” begins before the evil was unleashed.
John Form has found the perfect gift for his expectant wife, Mia—a beautiful, rare vintage doll in a pure white wedding dress. But Mia’s delight with Annabelle doesn’t last long.
On one horrific night, their home is invaded by members of a satanic cult, who violently attack the couple. Spilled blood and terror are not all they leave behind. The cultists have conjured an entity so malevolent that nothing they did will compare to the sinister conduit to the damned that is now…Annabelle.
Taking place prior to the events of ‘The Conjuring’ ‘Annabelle’ tells the story of the possessed doll and its origins as well as the family that first discovered the terror that it was capable of unleashing. The story begins with a young couple, the woman currently pregnant. In the middle of the night she awakens to screams next door. Soon a couple of murderous cult members who just murdered their neighbor come barging into their home and brutally attack them. The cops arrive and the cultist couple is put down, the female member holding the doll and her blood dripping down into its eye where it then mysteriously evaporates. The couple barely escapes with their lives and shortly thereafter wisely chooses to get rid of the doll and relocate, unwilling to live in the house any longer. Nonetheless the doll somehow miraculously make it into one of their bags and soon, the now family of three (the woman having given birth since) is tormented by strange occurrences and dangerous situations that seem to be linked with the presence of the doll.
‘Annabelle’ is directed by John R. Leonetti and is his third effort as director, having previously directed the fairly lackluster films ‘The Butterfly Effect 2’ and ‘Mortal Kombat: Annihilation’ and while I wasn’t overly impressed with ‘Annabelle’ it certainly still had its moments and looked great; it is at the very least without question Leonetti’s best directorial work to date. The script was penned by Gary Dauberman who a few may be familiar with for his prior writing work on some video and TV films, including ‘Blood Monkey’ and ‘In the Spider’s Web’. The cast of ‘Annabelle’ is comprised primarily of names I’m personally not overly familiar with, aside from the talented Tony Amendola (TV’s ‘Continuum’ and ‘Once Upon a Time’ among much more) who also delivers the best performance of the film even in a more minor part. The rest of the cast includes Ward Horton, Annabelle Wallis, Alfre Woodard and others, most of whom deliver pretty solid performances in their roles, although some certainly more so than others.
While ‘Annabelle’ certainly isn’t the best horror film of 2014 by any means, it’s also miles above a large majority of the others and provides an entertaining and fairly creepy time. The film looks fantastic and the rich vibrant colors, along with the set pieces and the proper attire to represent the films presence in the 1970’s compliment it in a significant way. It also delivers a number of truly eerie moments that are sure to result in the viewer jumping out of their seats on at least a few occasions. While it does have these elements going for it, unfortunately ‘Annabelle’ falls short in a number of other ways. The writing seems predictable and trivial at times and I personally just couldn’t find myself really feeling too much for any of the cast members; while this certainly doesn’t detract from the creepiness and beautiful imagery, it does detract from caring too greatly about where the film may take us in the end. It does a good job of tying together the bits prior to ‘The Conjuring’ though and answers most all of the questions folks may have regarding where the doll came from and what occurred with it prior to it ending up where it did in the opening of ‘The Conjuring’. If you don’t go in expecting a horror masterpiece on par with the film it was spun off of, you should have a pretty fun time with ‘Annabelle’ and it’s a good pick for a creepy late night Saturday movie.
The Blu-Ray release of ‘Annabelle’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation utilizing the film’s original 2.4:1 Cinemascope Aspect Ratio. The video presentation looks fantastic as a whole; the colors are rich and bright, the details and surroundings sharp and clear. Even during the fast moving sequences and those occurring in heavy darkness, the activity is always easily discernible. Everything, down to the edges of the picture looks fantastic and no perceptible faults of any note could be found within on my end; another top notch high definition video presentation from the folks at Warner Bros.
The Blu-Ray release features a lossless 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack that sounds pretty great and positively contributes to the overall viewing experience of the film. The creepy sequences are complimented by this lossless soundtrack as it maintains eerie quiet one moment and then hits hard another, as a result jolting the viewer even more so than simply from what they are seeing on screen. The music selections and doors slamming, along with every other creepy sound effect you can imagine sound fantastic and the dialogue occurring throughout is always easily audible, never negatively affected from the additional effects present at the same time.
The Blu-Ray release of ‘Annabelle’ does include some entertaining and worthwhile bonus content. Included on the release is a number of Deleted Scenes from the film (approximately 20 minutes worth in total), in addition to a number of short Featurette’s that take the viewer behind the scenes of the films creation and feature interviews with the cast and crew, including producer and ‘The Conjuring’ director James Wan discussing his overall love of the Annabelle story and the doll itself. The included Featurette’s are: ‘The Curse of Annabelle’; ‘Bloody Tears of Possession’; ‘Dolls of the Demon’; and ‘A Demonic Process’.
*Please note that the above images are taken from the Blu-Ray and resized. They additionally will suffer quality loss as a result of .jpg compression. Larger versions of each image can be viewed by clicking on the image. All images and content included on this Blu-Ray release are the property of their respective owners.