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Annabelle - Blu-ray Review

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Annabelle - Movie Review

2 stars

James Wan’s smartly made The Conjuring gets its first spin-off with Annabelle.  The demonic doll that kicked off Wan’s movie gets her own headlining gig.  You shouldn’t go into this film with high expectations, though.  Annabelle is a certifiable disappointment.  Oh, it might scare you – and if that’s all you want from a movie then “bully” for you – but its beyond predictable storyline and routine frights concerning a bad-natured dolly and a slaughtered family are the only true horror the movie offers.

A doll carriage rolls across the floor.  Noises pour down from the attic.  A child’s voice giggles across the hall.  And that damned smiling doll sits on a white chair in the corner of the room.  The hairs on the back of my neck are already rising at the idea of this strange possession.  It’s October.  There are many reasons to see a horror film in a theater with a bunch of strangers.  If one person screams, we all jump.  Tis the season, you know, and Annabelle is one that you’ll put first on your list. 

But all is not well in this unsurprising shotgun house of horrors.

Unfortunately, the trailers are better at producing suspense than the film itself.  I wanted this film to be good.  Hell, I’d even settle for decent but screenwriter Gary Dauberman and director John Leonetti refuse to let the doll do what it does best without filling the movie with stale conventions so blatant they can’t be ignored.  You can, in fact, spot them a mile away thanks to the horrible acting.  From the typical inclusion of a cautionary “You can not kill what was never created!” priest to the wise, widowed bookstore owner, most everything about Annabelle is on autopilot. 

A young married couple, Mia (Annabelle Wallis) and John (Ward Horton), are preparing their house for the arrival of their first child.  Mia is a doll collector and John, when he is not collecting women, helps her by bringing home Annabelle, the porcelain doll with that famous smile.  You won’t care about the couple or their boring life because the actors portraying them are simply going through the motions and whispering as they do.  Wallis is so cold in her delivery and so distant as an actress that the audience actually has to depend on the movie to be carried by a porcelain doll just to stay awake.

Things pick up in their dull Catholic life when a wackadoo cultist named Annabelle slaughters the family next door.  Ah, you see where this is headed.  The doll gets possessed and all of hell is unleashed.  Not really.  But the doll does carry the picture across the finish line thanks to its haunting.  The audience: however, is left for dead.  As hair-raising as the film is in certain moments, it tries a bit too much to connect to The Amityville Horror and events in The Conjuring.  The tension is best felt in isolation and Leonetti just can’t depend his actors for much help. 

Annabelle doesn’t dare to do anything but spook the audience and, when the atmosphere is just right, Leonetti with his old fashioned bag of camera tricks does just that.  The movie and its actors just don’t do much of anything else.  And, yes, we can blame them for trying.

Annabelle - Movie Review

MPAA Rating: R for intense sequences of disturbing violence and terror.
Runtime:
98 mins
Director:
John R. Leonetti
Writer
: Gary Dauberman
Cast:
Ward Horton, Annabelle Wallis, Alfre Woodard
Genre
: Horror
Tagline:
Annabelle
Memorable Movie Quote: "Oh, My God. You're covered in blood."
Distributor:
Warner Bros.
Official Site: http://annabellemovie.com/
Release Date:
October 3, 2014
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
No details available
Synopsis:She terrified you in The Conjuring, but this is where it all began for Annabelle.

Capable of unspeakable evil, the actual doll exists locked up in an occult museum in Connecticut—visited only by a priest who blesses her twice a month.

New Line Cinema’s supernatural thriller Annabelle begins before the evil was unleashed.

John Form has found the perfect gift for his expectant wife, Mia—a beautiful, rare vintage doll in a pure white wedding dress. But Mia’s delight with Annabelle doesn’t last long.

On one horrific night, their home is invaded by members of a satanic cult, who violently attack the couple. Spilled blood and terror are not all they leave behind. The cultists have conjured an entity so malevolent that nothing they did will compare to the sinister conduit to the damned that is now... Annabelle.

Annabelle - Movie Review

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - January 20, 2014
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
Subtitles
: English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; French (Canada): Dolby Digital 5.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1 (640 kbps); Portuguese: Dolby Digital 5.1
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set (1 BD, 1 DVD); UV digital copy; Digital copy; DVD copy
Region Encoding: Region A

As usual, Warner Bros has done a superb transfer of the film.  Annabelle's 1080p/AVC-encoded video transfer is simply amazing.  Although the colors are muted, they help to set the tone of the period.  The transfer is crisp and almost demo disc quality.  No artifacting is found anywhere in the feature presentation.  The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track found in the film has a perfect mix for a horror film, adding tension to already nerve wrecking scenes and providing that echo sound needed at those gotcha moments.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • None

Special Features:

One area that is extremely lacking on this Blu-ray release is the special features.  Aside from the standard 20 minute fluff behind-the-scenes piece, a digital copy, and a few deleted scenes, there isn't much to watch.  Upon first watching the Blu-ray, I hoped for maybe a documentary on the real Annabelle doll; however, these hopes unfortunately did not come to fruition.  While Annabelle will probably not go down as a classic horror film (incidentally it has the highest worldwide gross ever for a horror film), it is one for anyone who is a fan of the genre to check out. Just be sure to lock up all stuffed animals and dolls before you press play.

  • Production Featurettes (20 min)
  • Deleted Scenes (20 min)

 

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