Horror is the only film genre that can manage to entertain in two incredibly different ways.
A film can either get away with being so bad and cheesy that it manages to endear itself to audiences, or it can be truly terrifying. “Annabelle,” the sequel to 2013’s “The Conjuring,” unfortunately falls in the middle of the spectrum.
“Annabelle” is a film that had a lot of potential. It was centered on a terrifying, possessed doll, involved an interesting satanic cult angle and it maintained the 1970s aesthetic that made “The Conjuring” so successful. The problem with “Annabelle” is the film manages to squander this potential at every available moment.
For starters, instead of focusing on Annabelle as the main source of evil, the film chooses to focus on an incredibly tacky-looking demon, which is not scary in the slightest. The doll, Annabelle, is also used in an underwhelming and uninteresting way. For being the titular character, the doll does essentially nothing and does not even move.
This lack of fright extends to essentially every aspect of the film, except for one or two scenes. The film’s idea of building suspense is to have a close-up on the doll’s face, which may have been frightening once or twice when used in conjunction with something else, but this should have never been the main tactic of building tension.
The film also relies excessively on jump scares, which ruined the impact of the scare when the same technique has been used in every other moment.
One of the film’s biggest faults is the pacing. The film spends too much time following the family around. The supporting characters are flat and are in the film simply to advance the plot.
The two-dimensionality of the supporting characters is especially evident in the character Evelyn. From the minute the character is introduced, she is used to help the main characters, and all of her backstory revolves around how she came to be in a position to help the main characters.
The flat characters and poor pacing could be acceptable if the plot was engaging enough, but the plot the film does have is dull and in some instances does not make logical sense, and for long periods of time there are very little scares to keep the audience’s attention.
Despite its numerous flaws, not everything is negative with “Annabelle.”
The few scares that do work are quite fun. The scenes based around the satanic cult that makes the Annabelle doll possessed and a scene at the end where a baby is replaced by a doll are actually quite frightening.
The biggest strength of the film is the cinematography. For a film that is so lifeless, “Annabelle” had a gorgeous set to look at. Multiple times I found myself pulled into a scene strictly because of a vivid color palette or an interesting camera angle.
It is unfortunate that such incredible cinematography is wasted on a film that was as dull as “Annabelle.”
Ultimately, this movie was an interesting concept that ruins its potential by settling for horror tropes and ignoring the basic elements of quality filmmaking, such as well-rounded characters or an engaging plot.