Chances are, you’ve seen Annabelle before. Several times. Let me break it down: creepy doll, catholic priest, couple whose marriage was ordained by the casting gods, tragic murder, satanic rituals. ect. Nothing about this movie is new or innovative or shocking. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t good.
Horror is a really formulaic genre for a reason. The same tropes and archetypes pop up again and again because they are rooted in what scares us. Annabelle takes advantage of that fact pretty shamelessly, beginning with the happy expectant couple, a Manson-style murder spree, and an onslaught of spooky ‘what the frak’ moments. I won’t synopsize because everything I could say would begin and end with ‘creepy doll’, but I will say that if you are a fan of gimmick-less horror, this one might be up your alley. Or at least up an adjacent alley. Annabelle feels like an homage to old-school scary, a feature length tribute to bygone classics like Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist. And while I don’t like the idea that this Conjuring spin-off is turning one of last years best movies into a haunted tent-pole, at least the result was a film freaky enough to do James Wan proud. So if you are looking for a serviceable, entertaining movie to see this weekend that could potentially derail your circadian rhythm, go see Annabelle. Or Guardians of the Galaxy for the 9th time. Either way, I fully support your decision.