Move over Chucky, there's a new face in town! Her name is Annabelle. While her wrath is not Child's Play she will definitely mess with your head. Annabelle is a rare vintage doll, given to a extremely pregnant Mia played by, coincidentally another Annabelle, Wallis that is. Truth be told Annabelle's face is not all that new. It's showing a bit of wear left over from a previous engagement.
You see, while listed as a spin-off, this film is considered to be the prequel of 2013s The Conjuring which was also directed and produced by John R. Leonetti and James Wan respectively. Like The Conjuring, it is also based on the 1970s case “Annabelle: The Haunted Doll” as illustrated in the book Demonologist in which experienced paranormal investigators and preeminent experts Ed and Lorraine Warren tackle the potential connection and mystery surrounding a possessed raggedy Anne doll of the same name and the death of 7-year-old Annabelle Higgins.
In this adaptation, all seems normal until Mia receives what is thought to be the perfect gift from her husband played by Ward Horton. That same night the next door neighbors are brutally murdered by a cult and immediately after, Mia’s own home is invaded. The consequences are swift but well directed, choreographed and very believable with the element of surprise being reverberated by action as well as sound.
Traumatized by the ensuing mayhem and violence by the intruders they decide to move. But not before the realm for evil has been established. Blood and terror were not the only remnant left by the attack. An entity has been conjured that is beyond malevolent and pales in comparison to the brutal attack. With a sinister conduit to the damned established, escape seems impossible. One saving grace is the very caring and understanding Alfre Woodard (Twelve Years A Slave) who contributes her talents as Evelyn, a supportive new neighbor.
As I did not see The Conjuring I cannot make a valid comparison. However, I can say that just looking at Annabelle's creepy porcelain face was scary enough to get the idea. And if not for the believable well-executed experiences and fear of those associated with the underlying secret within Annabelle, I would not have been as captivated as I found myself.