“Anabelle” haunts screens, No. 2 in box office

Lucy Lopez, Culture Editor

Let’s face it, there’s nothing creepier than a possessed doll.

“Annabelle” haunts the screen this fall, opening last Friday Oct. 3. Trailing only behind “Gone Girl” at No. 2 in the box office, this prequel to 2013’s “The Conjuring” leaves a family fighting off a demon after a satanic cult invades their home in the 1960s.

Mia and John Gordon are newlyweds pregnant with their first child. John buys Mia a collectable doll to add her to collection; the nursery is covered in porcelain dolls. He’s still in medical school and she is left to fend for herself much of the time.

Their next-door neighbors’ runaway daughter comes back with vengeance and after a classic middle-of-the-night chase and slaughter scene the doll consumes her spirit. Their daughter’s name was Annabelle Higgins.

Though it has been said that the Annabelle doll is real, it’s actually a Raggedy Ann Doll rather than a porcelain doll with a menacing look, Mia and John offer an explanation as to why the doll becomes possessed prior to “The Conjuring.”

John has to go away to the conference, and after being shaken up by the events of a break-in, things start to get creepy. Doors start to open; the doll is in a different place every now and then. John decides to throw away the doll, but those who have also seen “The Conjuring” know Annabelle doesn’t give up that easily. When they move to a new apartment, she’s at the bottom of their last box.

An unnerving feeling fills the air as Mia is left alone because, of course, John gets put on the night shift. How convenient. For some reason, the husband never seems to be around in the direst situations in horror movies. This seemed too obvious a cliché, especially because they have a baby girl.

“Annabelle” has the vibe of a psychological thriller most of the time, as most scenes involve Mia seeing or hearing things. Is she traumatized because of the events and almost losing the baby, or is this family being haunted by a possessed spirit? It’s easy to assume that maybe Mia is just paranoid after what happened to them in their old house.

The use of classic horror movie basics such as dead tracks accompanied with loud noises, rainy nights, and empty space add suspense. And let’s just say one scene will make you question any apartment complex with basement storage. Granted, my question was, “why is she going to put things in storage on a rainy night, with her baby asleep upstairs?” Do it in the morning!

I found Mia and John to be a little bit too perfect of a couple, especially with the strain of what was happening to them. She had a flawless maternal instinct and he was a “whatever you want, honey” husband. It was almost sickly how easily they solved these problems. I would’ve liked to see him question her when she confronted him about Annabelle’s haunting.

The befriending of the town bookstore owner was also a bit on the light-hearted side of things as well. As much as I’d like to sit there and listen to a bit of deep girl talk, I want to be scared.

“Annabelle” lacked consistency. The scary parts were good, but they were too spread out. There needed to be something worth making the movie R-rated.

Having a history of being terrified of dolls, my feeling going in was that I’d end up absolutely terrified. Surprisingly, I wasn’t. Maybe its because I’m extremely accustomed to horror movies and know the tricks. I left the theater wanting more.

Honestly, there’s nothing like the original. “The Conjuring” takes the cake this time. Even though it wasn’t a perfect movie, it achieved its primary goal: being scary. “Annabelle” gets a four out of five on my scare scale.


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