Mia (Annabelle Wallis) interrogates Annabelle about her penmanship.

Mia (Annabelle Wallis) interrogates Annabelle about her penmanship.

Reel Reviews: This demon doll is rather static

Review of new horror-thriller Annabelle: “If he can’t have your soul, any soul will do.”

  • Oct. 10, 2014 8:00 p.m.

When a young couple expecting their first child suffer a home invasion of murderous occultists, a demon finds passage into the real world via a creepy doll named Annabelle.

We say, “If he can’t have your soul, any soul will do.”

TAYLOR: There’s not much to this movie, but I still enjoyed it. I’ve never seen the couple in the film, Mia and John Gordon (performed by aptly named Annabelle Wallis and Ward Horton), but they are capable enough performers to get through the film convincingly.

Wallis has the bulk of the fear to carry as she is home alone all the time with their new baby and Annabelle. Annabelle, of course, is the star and she is terrifying, even just sitting there staring off into space. I don’t think I’m providing any spoilers by saying she never moves, but she does change expressions and positions, always when we’re not looking. Rounding out the performances are the excellent Alfre Woodard as the sympathetic friend and Tony Amendola as the earnest priest.

HOWE: When The Conjuring came out last year it had some really good frights, yet to me Annabelle was a bit of a let down. Don’t get me wrong, Annabelle has its moments but nothing to make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. And when it did make me jump, it was a cheap scare.

TAYLOR: Agreed, jump scares are there and are effective.

There were a couple of truly scary moments as well, enough to garner a passing grade from me. I was a little disappointed that Annabelle didn’t move. I was hoping that she’d just blink, or perhaps move her eyes. However, once the demon started materializing, things became truly scary.

At the risk of repeating myself, I wish there was more shown of what we’re finding scary in horror films. For instance, in one scene, a demon is seen at the end of a dark hallway. Rather than have him pop up, much closer for the cheap jump scare, I would prefer that he slowly walked down the hall toward us, becoming more visible and dragging out the scare.

For some reason horror directors seem to want to stick to the tried and tired formula of jump scares interspersed between tiny glimpses of what is actually scary.

HOWE: I liked that you only got to catch glimpses of the demon. To me it leaves a little more to the imagination to make the figure complete, either that or they ran out of money to finish his costume. I will say he was a petty damn good looking demon from his horns all the way down to his pointy chin.

I think the makeup artist did a fantastic job not going way over the top with gory details or special effects, just how you would see him in your nightmares.

He reminded me of the Lincoln Imp.

– Taylor gives Annabelle 3 ghost prams out of 5.

– Howe gives it 3 Sunday mass services out of 5.

The film is currently showing at the Galaxy Cinemas in Vernon.

Brian Taylor and Peter Howe are film reviewers based in Vernon, B.C. Their column, Reel Reviews, appears in The Morning Star Friday and Sunday.