A lower budget spinoff of last year's The Conjuring, Annabelle tells the story of the titular doll who appears to carry a disturbing curse, haunting those who have it in their possession. Coming off from one of the best horror films in recent memory, Annabelle certainly has potential - and while it may not be as well constructed as its counterpart, it sure is just as freaky.
As the story begins, the Annabelle doll is currently the possession of married couple John (Ward Horton) and Mia Gordon (Annabelle Wallis), who are expecting their first child. Things soon take a turn for the worse when members of a satanic cult murder their neighbours and target them next, with their motivations revolving around the bizarre doll itself. When the authorities intervene, the Gordons quickly move away to another house, though Annabelle whom they tried to dispose of mysteriously follows them - and their connection begins to expose more sinister truths behind these strange occurrences.
Annabelle may not be a masterful piece of storytelling and it's certainly not as compelling as The Conjuring, but to say it's not scary would be a massive lie - maybe there's one too many jumpies, but at least most of them actually have scary content, rather than being pointless loud noises. The film successfully manages to craft a number of shocking moments that make the cinema erupt into screams of panic - particularly with its stylishly grim cinematography and eerie sound design.
The doll itself and the satanic entities that begin to emit from it only add to the fear factor as the film approaches its climax; sadly, this build up is met with an extremely clumsy payoff, resulting in a rushed ending and an unfortunate lack of focus. The conclusion actually starts to provide some unintentional laughs and lazily mimics The Conjuring itself, making for a been there, done that vibe. With these compliments and criticisms in mind, Annabelle is definitely lacking in substance, but with some solid performances and plenty of scares, it makes for a thrilling experience when enjoyed on the big screen - especially with a large audience.