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Annabelle

Annabelle-poster.jpgI’m a huge fan of horror films.  Even bad horror films catch my attention and make their way into my Netflix Queue.  However, it takes a lot to get me to lay down some hard cash to actually head to the theater to see the next installment from the genre.  Director James Wan has had the effect on my wallet being pulled from my jeans and pulling out a few greenbacks to do so.  While Annabelle is not directed by Wan, it is part of his dynasty of great horror films which have included the Insidious series, and the Conjuring as well.  Annabelle, produced by Wan and directed by John Leonetti, is the prequel to the Conjuring and next year’s Conjuring 2, and fits nicely in line with those films.

The film opens up pretty much exactly the same as another Wan film Dead Silence.  In fact I think they just copied the first 15 pages of the script and re-shot it, but had the film set in the 60’s instead of present day.  John and Mia are a married couple that live in California.  They are expecting their first child as John is finishing up his studies to become a doctor, when tragedy strikes.  Their neighbors are brutally murdered by two members of a Charles Manson type cult.  John and Mia narrowly escape the same fate as local law enforcement kill the two cult members.  The members are part of the Cult of the Ram, and one of them sheds their blood all over the doll named Annabelle.  Thus begins the terror.

Annabelle finds a way to terrorize the young family even after they move to Pasadena to get away from the massacre that happened.  It’s not their house that was possessed, and it takes them quite some time to figure out what it is that is after them and why. Mia is the one that is terrorized as she stays home all evening alone with her baby, as John is stuck working the night shift.  How convenient.  Mia must convince John that she’s not crazy, and something is after them.

Annabelle is nothing we haven’t seen before, but director Leonetti finds a way to keep things fresh, and to keep the horror just hidden in the shadows.  He also does a nice job of tipping his cap to other great horror films like Rosemary’s Baby and The Omen.  Annabelle feels like a horror film from that time period, and that’s why it works so well.  It really is terrifying.

As a franchise The Conjuring and Insidious films are cash cows for Wan as producer and director, and they’re a hell of a frightening good time.  Annabelle is no exception.

Grade: B