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‘Annabelle’ Review: Starring Annabelle Wallis, Ward Horton & Alfre Woodard

Before paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren and ridded demonic spirits from a Rhode Island farmhouse in 1971, there was Annabelle. In The Conjuring we learned that the Warrens took Annabelle, a vintage doll possessed with a demonic spirit, and put her in a glass case in their room full of paranormal artifacts in their home. How Annabelle was possessed was never explained, it was only hinted that the doll would move on her own and unexplainable things happened when she was in her former owner’s home.

In a prequel to 2013’s The Conjuring, the story begins in 1968 when we meet soon to be parents Mia (Annabelle Wallis) and John (Ward Horton). Mia, an avid doll collector, is thrilled when John gives her a vintage doll she been desperately looking for to complete her set for the nursery.

One night while Mia and John are sleeping, Mia awakes to a scream next door at the home of the Higgins. The Higgins’ estranged daughter Annabelle has broken in and murdered both of her parents in cold blood. Annabelle and her boyfriend are part of a Satanic cult and also break into John and Mia’s home. After violently attacking Mia, Annabelle goes into the nursery and commits suicide. When the police open the door, Annabelle is found sitting on the floor, her throat slit open with the new vintage doll in her arms.

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After that night strange occurrences surround Mia, John and their newborn baby girl. Eventually the family realizes that the doll may be the reason their family is in danger.

The Conjuring cinematographer John R. Leonetti directs while James Wan acts as producer creating the same atmosphere and vibe that is so distinct in his other films. It’s best to go into this type of movie having not watched the trailers, some of the most terrifying scenes may not date be given away! But pay close attention to the scenes in the basement storage room and whenever Mia is on the staircase, absolutely petrifying.

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Annabelle Wallis, who could pass for Dianna Agron’s twin, is absolutely fantastic and leads the film from start to finish. As new mother Mia, Wallis is believable in her scenes where she is confronted by evil spirits and she and on screen hubby Ward Horton have sweet chemistry. Alfre Woodard is delightful as the wise bookstore owner Evelyn who helps Mia in her time of need and Tony Amendola pays homage to Father Damien in The Exorcist as Father Perez, the priest who comes to Mia and John’s home to help rid the demonic spirits.

Annabelle is not only a prequel to The Conjuring, it is a stand alone horror film that genre buffs will find intoxicating and memorable and general audiences will find deliciously scary and fun. The genuinely horrifying scenes throughout the film will disturb even the strongest of stomachs and those who claim they can’t be shocked during a scary movie.

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