Last year The Conjuring came out. It was good. Not great, but good but what it’ll ultimately be remembered for is that doll. Yes, Annabelle. Looking at the IMDb, that movie was a success raking in nearly $140 million at the domestic box office. To Hollywood, that means “make a sequel.” And, as fate would have it, we’ve got more Annabelle, but not in true sequel form. The filmmakers have turned back the hands of time and have given us a prequel with, you guessed it, more Annabelle. Is it a cop out? Is it cheating? No, not really. They essentially took what audiences liked/feared and/or remembered from the first one and gave it to us in spades. Nothing wrong with that, right? Fans of The Conjuring will realize that none of the original cast members are back for this film which makes sense, since none of them would have been born yet. But we get that doll. That ever so creepy doll…
The year is 1970 and all is well. Mia (Annabelle Wallis) is expecting her first child and her husband, John (Ward Horton) is set to graduate from Medical School and start his life as a physician. Yes, things are good. As a gift to Mia, John purchases what he thinks is an expensive and rare doll. And it’s a creepy-looking thing as well – audiences will instantly recognize it as, yep, Annabelle. To add to it, they already have a few other dolls like this so I we’re not to think this is an arbitrary thing. Sooner rather than later, things start to happen. Their neighbors end up, well, dead and they decide to relocate to sunny Pasadena, CA where nothing can go wrong. Wrong! The baby is born, John is doing well but supernatural occurrences start happening and Mia has no idea why. A priest (Tony Amendola) is enlisted to help shed some light on the situation and Mia’s neighbor, Evelyn (Alfre Woodard), does what she can to help as well. You might think that things are all well and good.You’d be wrong. Will Mia and John be able to escape the supernatural grasp of Annabelle or are they destined to live their lives chasing shadows and seeing demons?
On the surface, Annabelle delivers what it promises. It’s a sequel of sorts to a very successful horror movie. And its impact has been felt at my household. The morning after my wife and I watched the movie, we head a strange knock on the deck below. I chalked it up to a bird flying into our door (which happens quite often) and my wife screamed “It’s Annabelle!” So as much as I found the movie predictable and formulaic, I can’t deny that the film made an impression. I did have a problem with the continued shots of the doll – we were all waiting for it to do something but it never happened. I’d kind of like to find a scary doll like that and set it up – just looking at it all the time. I wonder what would happen? Still, Annabelle isn’t a horrible movie, but I don’t envision I’d watch it again anytime soon. Now I might fire up The Conjuring again, but this one – I’d rent it before adding it to your library.
Video: How’s it look?
I have to say that Annabelle looks literally perfect here. Granted we’ve come to expect this from pretty much new to Blu-ray film, but I really couldn’t find a fault with the image. The film takes place in the early 70’s, so the color palette is a bit muted and yellows and greens tend to dominate the interior. However there are an equal amount of dark scenes that might be easily compromised – thankfully that isn’t the case. The wide 2.40:1 AVC HD image simply oozes of rich, clarifying detail from beginning to end. And yes, it makes that damn doll all the more menacing.
Audio: How’s it sound?
I have to say that the film uses and makes the most of its DTS HD Master Audio sound mix. There are a few scenes in which there’s just a booming thud that resonates through all the speakers and really makes your heart skip a beat (or mine did, anyway). Of course they use this tactic more than once and it loses its effect upon subsequent occurrences, but that’s no fault of the mix. Dialogue and vocals are rich and crisp, though I knew instantly that the actress playing Mia was foreign – I like to make it a game to see if the actress is actually American or just a British/Australian playing an American. Still, LFE are involved in several scenes and it makes for a pretty robust and active track.
Supplements: What are the extras?
The Curse of Annabelle – James Wan regales us with the real-life Warrens and discloses to us that this is his favorite case regarding Annabelle. We also get a bit of face time from the cast and crew about the Warrens’ story.
Bloody Tears of Progression – This is more of a close up revolving around the murder in the house. We get a more technical look at the shot, why it was done in one continuous shot and so on.
Dolls of the Demon – We get a bit from Annabelle Wallis (Mia) as well as the progression of the Annabelle doll done throughout the course of the film.
A Demonic Process – We get a look at the arduous process it took the get the demon to look like, well, a demon. Poor guy – all that work for a 5 second scene. Isn’t Hollywood grand?