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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

Annabelle movie review: everything that is wrong with movies today

Annabelle red light

MaryAnn’s quick take…
A yawningly empty movie, the epitome of brainless, heartless, soulless, shameless cash-grab corporate filmmaking.
I’m “biast” (pro): nothing
I’m “biast” (con): The Conjuring did not demand a prequel
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

Did you require a movie about the doll from The Conjuring that was so evil that it had to be kept locked up? You did not. And even if you did, I’m gonna take a wild stab — which is taking a bigger risk than Annabelle ever dares — and presume that you did not require a movie devoid of anything that makes a movie even mildly interesting. Bland nonentities — a young couple (Annabelle Wallis and Ward Horton) about to have a baby — in 1970 Southern California engage in tedious, unrelated, unenlightening exposition until the obviously creepy doll he gave her as a gift starts doing utterly clichéd horror-movie stuff: slamming doors, turning the TV to static, dragging a kindly priest (Tony Amendola) and a Magic Negro (Alfre Woodard: American Violet) into what passes for a narrative, etc. Will gauzy curtains flutter in an ominous breeze? Will a spectral woman float across the background? Will someone say, “I’m not crazy”? Is Satan, Father of Lies, the Prince of Darkness, Grandmaster of All Evil, the Ultimate Adversary once again boring, easily tricked, and 100 percent incapable of surprising us with his doings? Did you guess Yes to all? You must be psychic! This is a yawningly empty movie, the epitome of brainless, heartless, soulless, shameless cash-grab corporate filmmaking. It is a crime that this cynical product, an insult to moviegoers and horror fans, is getting a wide release and the infinitely smarter, scarier, wiser Babadook — which beautifully and spine-chillingly explores in a full, rich way themes and motifs that Annabelle glosses over as unimportant — isn’t. This fact is everything that is wrong with movies today.

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Annabelle (2014) | directed by John R. Leonetti
US/Can release: Oct 03 2014
UK/Ire release: Oct 10 2014

Flick Filosopher Real Rating: rated UPIU (unnecessary prequel is unnecessary)
MPAA: rated R for intense sequences of disturbing violence and terror
BBFC: rated 15 (strong horror, bloody violence)

viewed at a semipublic screening with an audience of critics and ordinary moviegoers

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

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