Normally when a horror movie is a runaway box office hit that means sequels (and lots of them) are soon to follow. Well, a direct followup to The Conjuring - director James Wan’s popular 2013 supernatural horror feature - remains scheduled for release in 2015, though legal issues may result in that date being pushed back. Meanwhile, this Halloween season we’ll be getting a spinoff in the form of Annabelle – an origins movie for the eponymous freaky doll (first introduced to moviegoers in The Conjuring‘s prologue).
A teaser trailer for Anabelle was released not too long ago. It revealed that the trouble with the Ananbelle doll first started when its original owners, played by Annabelle Wallis and Ward Horton, had a bad run-in with their neighbors one night. And by “bad run-in,” we mean it turned out the people living next door were part of a Satanic cult and tried to kill the couple in question.
As the full-length Annabelle trailer makes clear, though, Wallis and Horton’s husband/wife duo manage to survive the attack in the film, but not before their prized “beautiful, rare vintage doll” (those are the official synopsis’ words, not mine) gets the blood of a possessed cultist spilled on it and becomes cursed. It thereafter becomes dangerously apparent: whatever this supernatural force is that’s latched itself on the Annabelle doll, it doesn’t have good intentions.
The director for Annabelle is John R. Leonetti, who also served as the director of photography on the last several films directed by James Wan (who’s only a producer on this movie) – including, The Conjuring and the first two Insidious installments. Judging by the trailer footage, the cinematography in Annabelle will be just as effective and carefully crafted as that in past Leonetti/Wan collaborations.
There may even be some real creativity in the ways the jump scares are executed here too, by the look of it (see: that closing sequence in the trailer where the ghostly little girl changes into a screaming grown-up specter). Having said that, it’s far too soon to properly gauge if Annabelle will also have the same unnerving atmosphere of dread as The Conjuring – much less, the meaningful moments of character development that film provided.
Leonetti’s resume as a feature-length director doesn’t inspire a whole lot of confidence on that front (see: Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, The Butterfly Effect 2), nor does the previous work of Annabelle writer Gary Dauberman (Bloodmonkey, Swamp Devil). All the same, even if this movie winds up being, at best, a pretty bland scarefest overall, it might still offer enough decent spooky moments to be worth checking out on home video (if not in theaters, per se).
Annabelle opens in U.S. theaters on October 3rd, 2014.