Director: John R. Leonetti
Writer: Gary Dauberman
Cast: Ward Horton, Annabelle Wallis, Alfre Woodard, Kerry O’ Malley
Studio: Warner Brothers

“Annabelle” opens on Mia and John, as they eagerly await the arrival of their first child. Being that it’s the late 60s and women were impressed with lame gifts, John finds the Annabelle doll for Mia. It’s a vintage doll and apparently this is a thing that Mia digs. Unfortunately, they get home invaded by Satanic cultists and one of them kills herself in the baby’s room while clutching Annabelle. The young couple freaks out, packs up their crap and moves to another town. Annabelle is left with the dead Satanic hippies, as this is what happens when you buy your wife nice things. John Leonetti frames these shots so beautifully, that I wondered if I had seen anything he had done before. It turns out that he was the cinematography on The Conjuring and Insidious.

America now states that horror is killer dolls and cheap scares. But, there’s also the hipster like push to play on convention and still give you what you expected. When Mia teams up with book store owner Evelyn to stop the haunting by Annabelle, you desperately want it to turn into later season Mad Men style ghost hunters. During their first conversation, I spent most of time spotting anachronisms. So, I hope I didn’t miss any important plot points. Killer hippie chick’s spirit might be in a porcelain doll that wants to kill a baby? Check and check.

As the movie finishes, I’m left wondering why are we getting solo films for scare tactics that didn’t quite work in other movies? Why is there a constant battle between exposition and repeated environments? What’s strange is why am I getting flashbacks to “A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge” while watching this? John R. Leonetti shares a similar eye as Jack Sholder, but there seems like something extra is there. The life of a horror nerd is a hard, lonely path.

RELEASE DATE: 10/03/2014

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