Year of Release: 2014
Director: John R. Leonetti
Stars: Annabelle Wallis, Ward Horton, Tony Amendola, Alfre Woodard, Kerry O'Malley, Brian Howe, Eric Ladin, Ivar Brogger, Geoff Wehner, Gabriel Bateman
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 3
John R. Leonetti has made his career primarily as a cinematographer, including James Wan's "The Conjuring" and "Insidious", as well as Chuck Russell's "The Mask". His directing career has been primarily in low budget films such as "The Butterfly Effect 2" and "Mortal Kombat: Annihilation". His ambitions are clearly to work within a B movie constraint, and in the case of "Annabelle" focus on telling a horror based story, one where the family unit is shaken and threatened by an overwhelming force. The film has some traces from Roman Polanski's "Rosemary's Baby", but none of the sense of paranoia that the classic film successfully depicted. There is primarily a focus on building some tension around the progressive attacks that the family experiences, but unlike "The Conjuring" where the director successfully built a backdrop story for the family, this one simply never gels. The actors are poorly cast also - both lead actors are wooden and bring no sense of depth or emotional range to a story that ends up being quite predictable and ultimately not very engaging. There are some echoes of the work that James Wan has built with "Insidious", but sadly not explored enough to keep this film interesting. A sadly missed opportunity.