Annabelle review: crying, talking, sleeping, walking evil doll

The toy could hardly seem more sinister if it had presented ‘Top of the Pops’ during the 1970s

Film Title: Annabelle

Director: John R Leonetti

Starring: Annabelle Wallis, Ward Horton, Tony Amendola, Kerry O’Malley

Genre: Drama

Running Time: 98 min

Fri, Oct 10, 2014, 00:00

   

There is invariably a structural flaw to any horror movie from the possessed-doll genre (and the possessed-ventriloquist- dummy sub-genre). The film-makers posit that an unthreatening entity has been unexpectedly invested with malevolent energy. The problem is that no doll in any such movie has ever looked less threatening than a bull with a flick-knife. You wouldn’t let your cat sleep with Chucky. Would you?

The toy in this prequel to agreeable period horror The Conjuring could hardly seem more sinister if it had presented Top of the Pops during the 1970s. An enormous female thing with misapplied lipstick, it telegraphs apocalyptic evil from the moment it allows itself to be brought into the family home. Let’s just place it on this rocking chair. Shall we? Nothing untoward happens to scary dolls when they’re sitting on rocking chairs. Right?

To be fair, the opening two thirds of Annabelle are not at all bad. Ward Horton and Annabelle Wallis play John and Mia, a handsome couple living an affluent life in nicer parts of Los Angeles during the early 1970s. John and Mia? Really? As if the allusions to Rosemary’s Baby were not explicit enough, the film-makers really do name their characters after the stars of Roman Polanski’s masterpiece.

Not to worry. Fun is had with period detail – mon chrome soap operas and huge pre-Opec cars – as the couple’s perfect life begins to show signs of supernatural infiltration. The doll is here. Something is up with their baby. The doll is there. A proto-Manson Family is on the prowl. Ahh, the doll is in the rocking chair.

Sadly, the film goes completely off the boil in the last half hour as it gives in to the anti-logic of the ghost train.

Things leap out from behind other things. Faces lurk in corridors. Creaks and bangs echo down looming corridors. And now the yawning begins.