Annabelle is a prequel to The Conjuring which was a surprise horror hit from last year directed by James Wan. This time around, John R. Leonetti, whose previous directing efforts include Mortal Kombat: Annihilation and The Butterfly Effect 2, takes the reins of what could turn into the latest genre franchise. The movie stars Annabelle Wallis (Yes, her name is Annabelle), Ward Horton, Tony Amendola, and Alfre Woodard.
Mia (Wallis) and John (Horton) are struggling newlyweds dealing with the growing pains of starting a family and establishing a home for themselves. After suffering a brutal attack by a couple of crazed cult members, they begin experiencing some really strange things that defy explanation. What they soon realize is that the disturbances are not going to leave them alone even after moving out of their house and to another city.
I'll tell you right now I'm a big fan of the horror genre and tend to get especially excited when a movie actually manages to conjure up more than one or two genuine scares before it's over. True horror movies should have the ability to draw the audience in with building tension and eager anticipation of moments that, when executed properly, gets everyone jumping, screaming, hollering, and ultimately laughing at the scares they successfully made it through. Annabelle has so many of these moments, I felt like we were in an amusement park ride as opposed to sitting in a packed theater and I think some folks would have benefited from having seat belts holding them into their seats.
The setup, the acting, the plot, and just about everything else about this movie is so basic and the film uses so many things you've seen in countless other horror movies, it just barely holds itself together as a cohesive story. That being said, this was still one of the most fun experiences I've had at the movies this year. One of the main highlights, and the one that really got the audience worked into a frenzy. involves a basement storage area and an elevator that, for some reason, doesn't want to cooperate with the person trying to use it. Maybe its bad wiring or maybe it's the shadowy figure who seems determined to do some really evil things to the stars of the movie. That moment, along with several other genuinely scary scenes, are what makes this movie a must see for genre fans and will provide tons of fun for people looking for some cheap thrills at the theater.
Annabelle is sure to get beat down by critics who look for every movie they watch to be worthy of every Oscar available and, thankfully, I am not one of those people. I watch movies because they are fun to watch. Yes, there are a ton of things wrong with this movie and the ending is a bit of a letdown but, by the time you get that far, you won't really care. You'll walk out of the theater talking about that scene where that scary little girl came running into the room, or that one moment where popcorn and sewing caused things to really heat up for Mia and the baby. You should definitely see this movie as soon as you can as the thrills and chills are that much better when experienced in a theater filled with like minded movie goers.