Annabelle doesn’t live up to fear factor

Contributed Photo
According to Ganster, Annabelle was entertaining but didn't live up to the hype it had been getting from the media.
Horror movies are hitting theaters

By Britnee Ganster
Managing Editor/Spectator

With the spirit of Halloween in the air, this season’s horror movies are hitting theaters every weekend. Though I usually try to avoid seeing scary movies in the theater, I was excited to see John R. Leonetti’s “Annabelle,” as it tied in with earlier work “The Conjuring,” which always left me wanting more.

“Annabelle” is considered a spin-off of “The Conjuring,” where Ed and Lorraine Warren deal with the haunting of a New England family. “The Conjuring” showcased a porcelain doll named Annabelle who was said to be possessed. The film of the same name, which was released Oct. 3, abandoned all traces of that previous film save for a brief introduction.

“Annabelle” follows the lives of a young family, John, Mia and baby Leah Gordon while they deal with the terror following a porcelain doll. John gifted the doll to his pregnant wife Mia who collected them.

One night, their neighbors’ estranged daughter and her boyfriend broke into the neighbors’ house, killing them before invading the Gordons’ home. After fighting them off, the police came and killed the boyfriend and found the neighbors’ daughter, Annabelle, dead in the nursery clutching Mia’s newest doll. A single drop of her blood is absorbed into the doll’s eye.

From there, a series of unexplainable events follow the Gordons even after they move to a different town. They learn the intruders were a part of a diabolic cult and that their misfortune might be more hostile than they think. With the help of a local bookstore owner and their priest, the Gordons had to overcome the doll’s possession and save their infant daughter.

“Annabelle” had so much potential. Porcelain dolls have been considered creepy for a long time now and the doll they chose as Annabelle definitely fit that stereotype. The film is also based off a true story that the Warrens handled in the early 1970s, however, the real Annabelle was a Raggedy Ann doll which is still on display in the Warrens’ home and blessed twice a month by a priest. I went into the theater with high hopes and I was expecting to be sleeping with the lights on for a week.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t too impressed with the story. The first half hour or so seemed to drag on forever and they touched on certain themes that could make the story really interesting like the Manson family and the occult, but they never really developed those ideas after mentioning them.

A lot of the film seemed recycled. We’ve seen a demonic doll in “Child’s Play” and a lot of the film was reminiscent of Roman Polanski’s “Rosemary’s Baby” including the main characters’ names Mia and John, which I can only think is an homage to Mia Farrow and John Cassavettes. Even the initial attack on the Gordons mimics the Manson Family’s attack on Polanski and his pregnant wife, Sharon Tate.

The scares were stereotypical “jump scares” and very predictable. There was only one instance in the entire film that actually scared me, and that’s saying a lot being as I jump when the toaster finishes. One of the film’s high points was Leonetti’s frequent use of close up shots of Annabelle to build tension, but none of the shots led up to anything, which felt to me like a wasted opportunity. Like so many movies before it, many of the big scares were shown in the promotional trailers.

The movie finally picked up towards the end, but I don’t think it was enough to save the film as a whole. The movie was entertaining, but nothing special. I did not leave the theater feeling like something was going to get me like I had hoped. In hindsight, I would’ve waited to watch “Annabelle” on Netflix next Halloween instead of paying to see it this month.

Britnee Ganster is the managing editor for The Spectator. She can be reached by