Annabelle: Horror Flick, Prequel to The Conjuring

annabelle_3The cheap and schlocky scares keep coming in “Annabelle,” a spinoff from James Wan’s 2013 horror hit, “The Conjuring.”  The legit sequel, “The Conjuring 2,” will bow in late 2015.

The film is shrewdly but impersonally directed by John R. Leonetti, a cinematographer and director who had previously shot The ConjuringInsidious, and I Know Who Killed Me.

 

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The title character in Annabelle is a porcelain doll, which played a framing role in Wan’s original film. For this shlock  picture,  screenwriter Gary Dauberman has creates an origins story for the large doll, which is superficial but functional.

A young married couple, Mia (Annabelle Wallis) and her doctor husband John (Ward Horton), are expecting their first child, and she is busy preparing the house and the nursery.

The woman’s name, Mia, might have been inspired by Mia Farrow, the star of Polanski’s terrific horror film, Rosemary’s Baby of 1968.

The story is set in 1969-1970, which is established through refernces to popular TV programs, songs, and actual events of the era.  As Mia is a doll collector, John gives her as a present a big, grotesque-looking porcelain doll

When the family moves, a neighbor (Alfre Woodard, wasted) who’s a bookstore owner with knowledge of occult, shows a strong and suspcious interest in Mia and her child.

“Annabelle,” like other cheap and exploitation horror flicks, disposes with plot and logic, centering on the standard-issue of the genre, frights and demons, occult rites, turning the doll into a threatening figure with a will of its own.

Made for Young Viewers 

Tracking suggested that the film has strong interest among younger moviegoers, who tend to turn out en masse on opening weekend.

The low-budgeted flick ($6.5 million) is a prequel to box-office hit The Conjuring, which grossed a sizeable $41.9 million debut in July 2013.