Annabelle began ‘life’ as a short segment in James Wan’s, The Conjuring, a film that proved to be unexpectedly successful. So now we’re offered this 60’s set sequel which gives us Annabelle’s back story. Capably directed by John R. Leonetti, it features fairly effective fright scenes of the silence, silence, silence, boo! persuasion, which would be all right, if the bits in between weren’t so desperately predictable.

Dull as ditchwater young couple, John and Mia Gordon (Ward Horton and Annabelle Wallis) are going to be parents soon. John is training to be a doctor, while Mia spends most of her time at the sewing machine, making… something (we’re never quite sure what.) As a special surprise gift, John buys Mia a doll she’s ‘wanted for a long time. Since the titular Annabelle is a thing of exceptional ugliness, this proves to be the film’s most baffling mystery. Why would anyone give anyone something that looks so downright creepy in the first place?

The Gordon’s blissful life is rudely interrupted when the next door neighbours are brutally murdered by their daughter, now a member of a Charles Manson-like hippie death cult. Mia is injured in the resulting affray and once back from hospital, with her new baby, Leah in tow, things start to bump and creak and generally jump out of cupboards in  her direction. Local priest Father Perez (Tony Amandola) is called in to help…

With it’s 60’s apartment-block setting, the film this mostly resembles is Rosemary’s Baby though frankly it’s not in the same league as Polanski’s iconic fright movie. This is a film where every character speaks in exposition and where you can see the ending coming as soon as the friendly bookshop owner steps into view. It has a few scary moments dotted throughout the proceedings but ultimately, it’s just a series of set pieces linked by not very much at all.

2.9 stars

Philip Caveney

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