ANNABELLE – Story Beats

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Annabelle is a serviceable and competent mid budget ($6.5 mil) horror movie built on a series of quiet quiet LOUD jump scares and a guy in a devil mask. A spin off from The Conjuring franchise – the plot manages the hardest thing to do in a horror movie which is  – how the hell do you keep them in the house for sixty pages once they realize it is haunted? Since we are getting an Annabelle sequel you might as well check out what they managed to Conjure up here… Oh , yeah we’re getting a Conjuring sequel too – so hold on to your jump scares – things are about to get all quiet quiet LOUD in a hurry up in here. This origin story tells how the Annabelle doll got all evil and shit. A Manson copycat Devil Cult member dripped blood into her (the doll’s) eye after murdering her family and trying to murder the young couple next door. Hence – Annabelle – the devil cult girl that got shot by the cops – is now the evil spirit inside the Annabelle doll. Origin story complete by page 19. The plot beats are fairly straightforward – John is doing his residency and is never home – leaving new mom Mia alone with the baby – not quite barefoot – but certainly in the kitchen and without a car, a family, a friend or any aspirations other than sewing and watching soaps. Nice. The Annabelle devil doll wants souls for The Devil and the baby is top of the list. The movie plays out as expected with:  is it really happening? – up until the mid point – then changes to – we have to deal with what is happening – as supernatural events escalate and we learn what the devil wants – until the third act where the devil, Annabelle, and/or the Ghost of Annabelle finally makes it’s move to take the baby and Mia has to stop it. Only she doesn’t stop it – her guilt ridden neighbor Evelyn does – by sacrificing herself with the doll – and all is right in the world again for mommy, baby and overworked daddy. The bookends here are as always – to set up sequels. I stopped counting jump scares but I would guess there are about 25 or so here – some more effective than others. Pretty much everything is a jump scare. If you are scared of creepy dolls, flashing lights, slamming doors and guys in devil masks – then this movie may work on you. I thought it was a decent horror movie but that is because I am afraid of guys in devil masks. Biggest lessons to learn here:

  1. Keep them in the house
  2. Keep the cast SMALL – 2 main characters- a baby – and three supporting characters
  3. Jump scares are all the rage
  4. This movie made a quarter $billion and is really not that original – but it is COMPETENT and WORKS as long as you don’t think too hard about it
  5. Movies made based on popular books or spinoffs from other films are how to get things financed – Annabelle is part of The Conjuring franchise

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Writer, director, editor, musician, teacher, blogger, lover of surfing, trashy movies, loud guitars and golf.

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