Before the Conjuring there was Annabelle and this film tells the story of her existence before ending up in a glass case in Ed and Lorraine Warrens home. Throughout history dolls have been used for both good and evil. Mia (Annabelle Wallis) an expectant mother and John (Ward Horton) her husband soon to be doctor, are a young married couple living in Santa Monica, California. One day as a gift to Mia John gives her a doll, a collector’s piece she had been looking for over many years, her name is Annabelle. Mia and John live a quiet life next door to Sharon (Kerry O’Malley) and Pete Higgins (Brain Howe) who happen to attend the same church led by Father Perez (Tony Amendola). That is until the Higgins daughter decides to come home for a visit. That night not only did the lives of the Higgins change but also that of Mia and John’s.
The Higgins girl, part of a satanic cult, happens to like the doll Annabelle so much so that when she lost her life the doll had taken it over. After Mia and John experience a near death attack in their own home Mia is bed ridden for the remainder of her pregnancy and from that moment on that house is never the same. Yet when they try to throw the Annabelle doll away and move to the Palmeri Apartments in Pasadena with their new born beautiful daughter Lea the doll shows up. Mia decides to forget the horrible night in Santa Monica and the significance the doll had that night and places Annabelle on a shelf in Lea’s room. Soon Mia meets a new friend from the Old Towne Book store and a resident of her building, Evelyn (Alfre Woodard) and she confides in her that weird things are happening at her apartment. Evelyn confides in Mia the story of what happened to her daughter Ruby. Once again Mia and John have turned to the church for help.
After a frightening night in the basement of the apartment building Mia comes face to face with pure evil and eventually turns to Detective Clarkin (Eric Laden) for answers to the cult that the Higgins girl belonged to and a symbol that appeared on Mia’s arm. At this time Mia comes head on with the reality that the evil she faces is not a ghost but rather a demon in search of a soul to take. Father Perez, Evelyn, John, no one can fight this battle between good and evil yet in a fight to the finish in order to save her baby, Mia discovers exactly what Ruby meant thanks to Evelyn, her mother. God have mercy on their souls. Six months later, evil is constant but the love of a mother is forever powerful against it.
This film set as a prequel to “The Conjuring” which was one of my all-time favorite horror films is not as good but still very close. Great direction with superb writing this story set in the 1970’s is well worth seeing in the theater and should do well at the box office. With my friend April on my left and my producer Lexi on my right I had the true experience of losing one arm and listening to gasps and shrieks of fear from them both, a true sign that this story will scare and thrill you for sure.
Wallis and Horton are both not only the perfect looking couple but they can actually act and do a great job at pulling you from the audience right into their story. Amendola made me flash back a bit to the “Exorcist” and the depiction of the Catholic Church and the help they tried to give against a possession of one’s body. Woodard I have been a fan of for years and still very much am the same today. As for the little baby that played Lea she could not have been any cuter than she was, perfect. Along with a wonderful supporting cast this film is a great treat as the Halloween season is upon us all, just be prepared to be scared or at least shaken in your seat. Written with three paws out of four by Jon Patch.