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Annabelle was a terrible movie spun off from the first Conjuring film in an attempt to squeeze more cash out of fans of that series and it was painfully obvious. It made money though and if it worked once, why not try again. So now we have a prequel to a spin-off, but this time that’s not such a bad thing. Flick opens 24 years before Annabelle with the Mullins family (Anthony LaPaglia and Miranda Otto) losing their daughter Annabelle (Samara Lee) in a terrible accident. Twelve years later, they decide to turn their spacious farmhouse into an orphanage…which makes sense, right? But when lonely, lame Janice (Talitha Bateman) goes into Annabelle’s old room, she finds a creepy doll hidden in a locked closet…and upon opening the door, unleashes something evil that may cost all of them their lives.

This film is loaded with all the haunted house/Conjuring films clich├ęs, but the difference maker is they are used very well by Lights Out director David Sandberg. The script by Gary Dauberman presents all the expected tropes one expects from a haunted house/possessed object movie, but that just gives Sandberg a chance to use them as they are meant to be and provides us with some very creepy and sometimes outright scary moments. Some of it does get a bit over-the-top and there are glaring questions like why the possessed doll wasn’t buried out in a field somewhere and why the Mullins’ brought children into a house that had a demon possessed doll as a tenant. But we do get some answers…if one really cares to ask…about how the doll became all things evil and the cast is very good, including the kids. A spooky and sometimes scary flick, despite being derivative and predictable, thanks to a talented up and coming director.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating