This morning I saw Annabelle, starring Annabelle Wallis and Ward Horton.
The year is 1969 and the world has gone crazy. Charles Manson and his "family" of murderers are terrorizing Southern California and Mia (Wallis) just wants to start a happy life with her doctor husband John (Horton).
The couple lives in Santa Monica, near the beach, in an idyllic house with attentive neighbors and a friendly church where they faithfully worship. They're expecting their first daughter and preparing the home for her arrival.
John knows of Mia's fondness for collectible dolls and buys her one, which she immediately treasures, giving it a place of honor in the nursery.
Before long, tragedy strikes and members of a satanic cult get to the couple in the middle of the night. Though not everyone survives, the pair and their unborn baby emerge with only minor injuries ... at least physically.
Strange things begin happening not long after, and Mia attributes the hauntings to the doll, which was symbolic of that horrific night. Determined to make a fresh start, John accepts a position in nearby Pasadena and gives the family hope for a fresh start.
Cue the slamming doors and stereo that turns itself on—we now have a horror film.
Though the directing is quite good (Leonetti is undeniably skilled in creepy shots), the story falls short. While The Conjuring didn't give every surprise away, this one does, and there's much less peril for the stars.
Annabelle is indeed based on a true doll (that now resides in Ed and Lorraine Warren's paranormal museum), but the story here, with few exceptions, is purely fictional.
I would've been much more interested in seeing a documentary of the actual events than attempt to be startled by a plot that's too conventional to be frightening.