Annabelle Annabelle Wallis, Ward Horton, Alfre Woodard. Directed by John R. Leonetti. Rated R. Opens Friday.
The opening minutes of James Wan’s 2013 surprise horror hit The Conjuring told the story of a possessed doll named Annabelle, neutralized and contained by the movie’s ghost-hunter protagonists, the Warrens. Although that short prologue was an effective encapsulation of the Annabelle case, the success of The Conjuring means that Annabelle now gets her own entire movie, an origin story that expands her powers to include visits from demons and the devil himself.
A year before encountering the Warrens, the creepy doll terrorizes young housewife Mia (Annabelle Wallis, no relation to the doll) and her newborn child with standard horror-movie tactics (slamming doors, appliances suddenly turning on, lights going out, etc.). With Wan serving only as a producer, directorial duties fall to Wan’s longtime cinematographer John R. Leonetti, who generates occasional suspense but can’t do much about the inert storytelling. Wan made Annabelle creepy in just a few short minutes; Leonetti takes an entire feature to make her uninteresting.