Hide Your Dolls, Hide Your Kids: An SML Review of “Annabelle”

Annabelle-2014-Movie-Poster-750x1111Dolls are creepy. They just are. We all know it.

It’s not often you see grown men cross paths with a child’s toy and mention that it’s the worst thing they’ve ever encountered. But the real-life Ed Warren, famed demon hunter of the 60s and 70s, said exactly that about a little Raggedy Ann doll that inspired the movie Annabelle.

Except, for the movie Annabelle, and its predecessor The Conjuring, the doll was changed into a taller, more anthropomorphic, creepier figure. One with a human mouth and fingers and eyes. Yep. Those damn eyes. They’ll haunt you.

Annabelle is your basic story about a young housewife from the 1960s named Mia (Annabelle Wallis) protecting her newborn baby from a demon that haunts a doll. Take one part Rosemary’s Baby, add the Child’s Play series, send it back to the summer of love, and you’re getting a pretty good idea.

Most of the film takes place in a cramped walk-up apartment. Lots of creep tactics are used — squeaky floors, appliances that turn on by themselves, domestic terrors — and most of them work well. One scene alludes to the famous Warrens. Everyone who has seen The Conjuring will want to point at the screen and yell, “Ooooooooh. I know who they’re talking about!”

There is a demon behind all the hijinks, and it wants a soul. Of course it does. Don’t they always?

Why is the demon focusing on Mia? Well, a curse from a satanic cult. Makes sense.

How do you get the demon go to away? Give it a soul.

See what I’m getting at? All of this stuff has been done before. Of course it has. It’s a horror film. It tries really hard to be a worthy prequel to the nearly-perfect horror flick The Conjuring. It even comes close. But it’s a very distant close.

I give Annabelle more credit than most other reviewers because, well, it’s a horror flick. After all, this is not a movie that will save the world, nor is that the intention. So my heart is full of forgiveness for the effort.

I also give the film a pass since the soundtrack is so cool. Lots of harmless 1960s bubblegum pop songs, which always fit just right in horror movies. Always.

The film worked better before you see the demon. Yep, in full horns and hooves and all that. It was far creepier when the movie just used long, slow, close-ups of the doll’s face. Like it’s watching you from behind those eyes. But once the dark spirit was shown, it had already played that card, and couldn’t do anything else but double down on the demon.

Wow. Double down on the demon. I like that sentence.

My biggest criticism with this overall fun and mostly harmless movie is the resolution. Mia befriends an older lady who owns a bookstore named Evelyn (Alfre Woodard). The way the film makes you fall in love with her, care about her, and then how it uses her is completely unsatisfying.

I recommend the movie. It’s a good attempt at a great film. Yes, it has its flaws. Most of it is derivative. But it’s a horror flick. What do you need? I felt it used a good mixture of suspense and gotchya moments. Not too heavy on either one.

You won’t feel cheated seeing Annabelle, but I guarantee that you’ll go directly home and hide your dolls, your kid’s dolls, or any stationary object around your house with fake eyes.

Click here to watch Annabelle on Amazon Instant Video.


For a great primer on Ed and Lorraine Warren and their strange adventures through the occult, here’s a cool link.


Jim MacKenzie is an amateur futurist on his way to guru-hood. He studied journalism and works in television. Jim writes for several blogs, including The Incredible Vanishing Paperweight and the satirical horror site StuffMonsterslike.com. Jim and his SML co-blogger, Sarah Giavedoni, have started a holiday, ticked off celebrities and tried to purchase the lunar surface. In his spare time, Jim likes listening to rock music, reading, giving away free books at his nonprofit "The POP Project" and trying to catch the real Thomas Wolfe Home arsonist.

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