Annabelle review – horror with unsubtle nods to Rosemary’s Baby

John R Leonetti’s prequel to The Conjuring pushes all the right fright-night buttons

The prequel to last summer’s runaway hit The Conjuring is basically “Chucky: The Manson Years”, with retro cult killers invading the body of the titular doll which then haunts pregnant newlywed Mia (Annabelle Wallis). There are unsubtle nods to Rosemary’s Baby, The Changeling et al, but for the most part it’s back to the de rigueur “quiet-quiet-quiet-BOO!” formula popularised to money-spinning effect by James Wan. Director John R Leonetti served as cinematographer on several of Wan’s films (including The Conjuring) so it’s no surprise that this looks much the same – although to be fair the scares are orchestrated with more flair than usual, even if the best of them are all spoiled in the trailer. Made for a mere $6.5m, this has already given Gone Girl a run for its money at the US box office, proving that audiences haven’t yet grown utterly weary of formulaic “cattle-prod” shocks.


Mark Kermode, Observer film critic

The GuardianTramp

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