Question: Since when does a doll get its own spin-off feature? Answer: When that doll is Annabelle, the creepy demon-possessed plaything that had a supporting role in last summer’s horror hit, The Conjuring.
Annabelle’s eponymous star vehicle recounts her origin story: purchased by soon-to-be father, John (Ward Horton) for his pregnant wife, Mia (Annabelle Wallis), the initially innocent doll is welcomed into a warm, loving suburban home. But late one night, a cult of devil worshippers invades the place and leave their dark mark on Mia’s gift. Moving into an apartment building (shades of Rosemary’s Baby), the couple try to put the incident behind them, but the newly empowered Annabelle isn’t about to let her “parent” sleep easy.
Since Conjuring director James Wan was busy with his Fast & Furious 7 duties, Annabelle was helmed by the original film’s cinematographer, John R. Leonetti, whose previous directorial credits include such less-than-illustrious sequels as Mortal Kombat: Annihilation and The Butterfly Effect 2. (Not that Wan was going to take the job anyway; he announced his retirement from horror last year, which means he likely won’t be back for 2015’s Conjuring sequel either). And because the main attraction is the doll, the producers didn’t have to spend Vera Farmiga money on the cast — the biggest name in the ensemble is Alfre Woodard, who plays a paranormal advisor that the bedeviled couple turns to for help. Despite its low-rent trappings, this just-released trailer does seem to promise some effectively spooky moments. What we’re really waiting for, though, is Annabelle’s team-up with Chucky.