Please note: this contains spoilers
This episode in the Annabelle series starts with the titular doll being taken by the Warren family to their home. The Warrens are paranormal investigators and very good at it, and Annabelle is locked within a case made from holy glass and prayed into submission every week. The Warrens are based on the real Warrens, who travelled round in a career of demonology.
Obviously, Annabelle has to get out. The Warrens head off on a mission and leave their young daughter in the care of a babysitter. Enter the babysitter’s friend, who recently lost her dad in a car accident that happened when she was driving. The friend is desperate for some evidence of an afterlife, gets herself invited to the Warren’s house, organises a diversion, gets into the safe room and accidentally unleashes Annabelle. Occult hijinks ensue.
Annabelle is well directed, with several clever designed passages. It’s well shot, looking a cut above the average horror fodder. All three of the leads are excellent, particularly McKenna Grace as the daughter Judy Warren. The film is firmly set in the Christian mythos: crosses and prayers work, demons are real but god and priests win in the end.
But here’s the funny thing, Annabelle just isn’t scary. There’s no threat to the characters, no feeling they will ever die (they don’t), no real horror or tension, just lots of traditional ‘paranormal style occurrences. The film is like a comfortable cardigan, you slip into some minor occult adventures, it’s warm and you’re never on edge. This probably isn’t what’s meant to happen, this probably was supposed to be a scary movie, but it’s just Sunday afternoon telly. The daughter makes friends, the babysitter gets a boyfriend, the friend knows her dad doesn’t blame her. Everything ends happy, easily.
If you want to be on the edge of your seat, or you want to feel fear, this isn’t the film for you. If you want a gentle supernatural vibe, a sort of comfort film, this is a contender. God knows how it was rated R.