Annabelle (2014)

(On Cable TV, July 2015)  What a strikingly dull horror film.  It wasn’t a good idea to spin off The Conjuring’s acclaim, but every profitable horror film inevitably ends up producing inferior sequels and so here we are.  Tracking the back-story of the Annabelle doll introduced in The Conjuring, (but otherwise independent of the previous film to the point of being stronger if you haven’t seen it), Annabelle doesn’t reach too deep in the bag of usual horror movie tricks, what with its blend of babies-in-peril, catholic mythology, jump scares and demons out to suck innocent souls.  It’s all very familiar, utterly by-the-numbers and it doesn’t take much to let our attention wander as the film laboriously works its way through plot point best established in other better movies.  The doll has more personality that the human characters, and while the conclusion has about thirty seconds of intensity, it’s a bit too little too late to redeem the film.  Created on an assembly line and put together without too much craftsmanship (which is a bit surprising, given director John R. Leonetti’s experience as a cinematographer on films such as The Conjuring), Annabelle is another in a long string of proofs that horror franchise can’t usually sustain Hollywood success: they invariably become corrupted at the slightest touch of financial greediness.

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