Annabelle is a prequel/spin-off from last year’s The Conjuring, telling the backstory of exactly how that particular doll came to be so cursed. Sadly though, Annabelle does not even remotely compare to the quality of The Conjuring. The single biggest problem with this horror film is that it simply isn’t very scary. The film’s fright-inducing scenes consist solely of jump-scares and not even good ones at that. Out of the approximately 50 or so jump-scares in the film, I maybe jumped at two. The plot is also incredibly predictable, following every worn and tired horror trope to the absolute letter, never experimenting or trying anything beyond the most basic conventions of the genre.
The film isn’t particularly fun, either. Some horror films, while not particularly scary, can be fun to watch due to their plot or characters. Annabelle does not fall into this category. The plot is so basic that no real enjoyment or humor can be pulled from it, and it isn’t aware of its own limitations. The film takes itself far too seriously without possessing the quality necessary for us to take it seriously. The worst instance of this is when the movie starts and the first thing we see is a passage about the history of dolls. It is not only completely unnecessary (see the above about scary dolls being a dead horse trope), but it completely breaks any immersion the film might have possessed by the entire theatre laughing at the absurdity of it.
So Hollywood, listen up: dolls are creepy. We get it. Stop making bad horror movies about them. We are sick of them, we don’t want to see them anymore. I know you’ve been scraping the bottom of the barrel recently, but you must have something better than this. If you need inspiration, go back and watch some of the classics, like The Shining or The Silence of the Lambs. Or just flip on the TV and watch American Horror Story or Hannibal. I know that’s what I’ll be doing if I want to be genuinely frightened, creeped out, or even engaged by the horror genre anytime soon.