McCoy on Movies: Annabelle

McCoy on Movies: Annabelle

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“Baby, do you hear that? That creepy doll in the shadow of the window does!” Mia (Annabelle Wallis) tries to calm her baby – or maybe herself? – in a scene from director John R. Leonetti’s prequel-ish to The Conjuring supernatural thriller ANNABELLE. Credit: ©2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment and Ratpac-Dune Entertainment LLC.


KEY CAST MEMBERS: Annabelle Wallis, Ward Horton, Alfre Woodard and Tony Amendola

WRITER(S): Gary Dauberman

DIRECTOR(S): John R. Leonetti


60 SECOND PLOT SYNOPSIS (OR AS CLOSE TO IT AS ONE CAN TRY TO MAKE): Welcome to Santa Monica, California circa the late 1960s/early 1970s. Meet Mia (Annabelle Wallis – I know, they just HAD to find an actress with the same name as the title character, right?) and John (Ward Horton). Mia is pregnant and looking forward to becoming a mom …

Then the estranged daughter of her next door neighbor ransacks their home along with her fellow cult member boyfriend. The young woman – Annabelle – commits suicide, all while clutching a doll Mia received as a present from John.

Fast forward and Mia and John (both now recovered from the attack) are living happily together with their newborn daughter … But as they soon discovered, their child isn’t the only new presence in their house …

WHO WILL LIKE THIS FILM THE MOST?: People who saw and enjoyed The Conjuring, those who scare easily and/or get creeped out by dolls, those who enjoy a predictable trainwreck for its inherent silliness.

WHO WON’T – OR SHOULDN’T – LIKE THIS FILM?: Pretty much anyone else.

FINAL VERDICT – IS IT GOOD, GREAT, BAD OR DOWNRIGHT AWFUL? Annabelle is ter-ri-ble … But it’s so, so bad that it might end up becoming a cult – no pun intended – classic.

“Why is Alfre Woodard in this?” – If that ends up becoming your thought once you see her pop up on screen as Evelyn, the owner of a book store who will become a key figure in Mia and John’s life, you’ve likely realized Annabelle is not meeting any of its TV commercials’ promises. For the film is almost an homage to the bad horror movies of days gone by with not only its simple premise, but look and execution.

Based on a real life paranormal investigation from the 1970s (according to most Web accounts, it wasn’t as crazy as the film might make you believe), Annabelle feels schlocky from start to finish under the direction of director John R. Leonetti with close-ups of things that don’t matter, easy “here comes the scary part” set-ups and writer Gary Dauberman’s “here are words” script. Wallis and Horton try to add a little life into their simple married couple characters … But there really just isn’t much to work with and – at times – it doesn’t always feel like they are trying too hard.

Save for perhaps 3-4 “jump” scenes, the 98 minutes that make up Annabelle are devoid of a lot of original ideas and entertainment. That is, however,  you enjoy the cheesy lines, the predictable moments, the cheap special effects and inexplicable “So … I guess that made sense?” moments that will leave you scratching your head instead of covering your eyes. (Lesson: This is why good marketing can make a lackluster product seem good until someone buys it and learns the truth for his or her self.)

If you’re looking for actual scares, however, you would be best served to look elsewhere, for the only thing scary about Annabelle is the fact it got made. Or that someone might enjoy for anything else than the silly, clichéd 1970s-style B-movie that it is.


Columnist - Tabari McCoy is Cincy Chic's movie critic. An award-winning stand-up comedian who also works as the public relations director at Cincinnati Museum Center, Tabari McCoy is the creator of McCoy on Movies, a blog about movies for film fans. The blog is written by someone who also likes movies that is smart enough to know his opinion isn't always the right one but is willing to express that opinion in public. McCoy also used to review movies for his college paper and a major metropolitan publication, so that helps add to his "street cred." Contact him at You can also check out more of his work on his blog at and follow him on Twitter at @tabarimccoy.