Director: John R Leonetti.
Starring.Ward Horton, Annabell Wallis, Alfre Woodard, Tony Amendola. USA. 1h 39m.
The Annabell doll scene from The Conjuring (2013) was one of the most frightening in the slightly scary supernatural mystery horror that went on to create its own warped far-from-the-truth universe and I wasn’t surprised that it became its own movie, however I was shocked that it became such a boring mess riddled with plot holes and only few genuine jump scares, that went to to spawn it’s own mini universe within the Conjuring universe, but it sells and we keep watching so who’s the idiot!?
In the Conjuring were introduced to the Warrens and their museum of creepy haunted keep you up at night stuff, including Raggedy Ann doll.. wait, the doll was changed from the original raggedy ann doll into a fucked up grimace/smiling porcelain doll which is already a thing of nightmares, and this “why-did-they-do-that” theme carries on throughout the movie as every trick in the book is employed in this dismal horror.
Everything raises the question of why you’re still watching the movie but it’s in vain hope that it will get better. Set in the 60s a young vibrant couple are mid term through their first pregnancy, painted as sterling upstanding citizens, everything around them starts to go wrong when John (Horton) buys his wife Mia (Walis) the last doll in a set she was collecting for their babies new playroom, not sure why he wasn’t buying formula or something useful, but on the same night violence breaks out next door and some teen cultist kill a bunch of people before breaking in and making a bloody mess when they die all over the carpet, the lovely doll is found in the hands of a young girl, we get it, the doll is now cursed, they throw it away but it turns up back in it’s spot on the shelf, but the wifey goes into some trance as she insists on keeping the doll.. nothing strange about that.
The rest of the movie goes through the horror to-do list, there are Final Destination (2000) accident setups involving popcorn on the stove and sewing machines, the doll is often glimpsed running around out of the corner of the eye of the families new apartment, strange Amityville (1974) scratching noises and screams in the night plague the couple only for things to get worse once the family priest Father Perez (Amendola) is called for help. Help comes in the unlikely guise as Evelyn (Alfre Woodard) , a book shop owner somehow has a secret key to success in a bizarre twist at the end, which in credit to the movie really was a twist, as every other scare is so loudly signposted.
A few scenes look as if they were straight out of Rosemary’s Baby (1968), with the film being set in a similar era having a huge baby’s pram in a tenant building it’s hard not to make the connection but instead of dealing directly with the cult and the devil we have a pretty obscure pesky demon to bounce around with. Some light is shed on what it is and what it wants but why it chooses a doll as a conduit is odd, but somehow in the crazy logic of the movie, quite effective as it’s toying with a couple of feckless idiots.
At times the film feels desperate to do it’s best to scare as many people as possible but in reality it tries too hard, The dolls history and activity is scary enough, the original film alluded to much different behavior, but much like all of the other films there’s a leap into a different direction in order to make it more sensational but all it does it makes it “could have been scary in the 60’s but not today fuckko” the whole experience was wasted on me apart from one scene which ripped of Insidious (2010), when the doll slowly raises into the air only to be revealed that the blackened demon is peeking out behind it, that was well crafted and pretty near but alas there was so few moments of greatness. I cannot wait to get through the next movie..
R – The Conjuring (2013), Robert (2015), The Silence (2019) The Nun (2018)
L – Haunted Dolls, 14 Horrors from 2014,