The eerie antique doll Annabelle featured in The Conjuring gets the titular cinematic treatment to attenuating effect.

A spin-off from The Conjuring, the film Annabelle tells the unnerving back story of the possessed and disturbing doll.

A humdrum couple whom is pregnant is readying the baby room for their imminent arrival. Mother-to-be Mia has an affinity for vintage dolls and receives rare Annabelle from husband John on the night her family is viciously attacked by satanic cultists.

About the only thing that scriptwriter Gary Dauberman does get correct is the chilling scene where the cult members attack the Gordon residence. The circumstances of the event were well thought out, appropriate for the time period and moderately unexpected. Unfortunately this is the only horrifying scene of the entire film.

Annabelle straddles the line between homage to the supernatural thrillers of the 70’s and uninspired rip-off of the supernatural thrillers of the 70’s.  The scares are far more feeble and ineffective than its peers, either because they are incredibly cliche or just lamely repetitive. Any hope for truly unsettling scares are overlooked and post-production unnecessarily adds the deafening and notorious string sound effect at every opportunity.

Director John R. Leonetti relies on loud sewing machines, loud record players and doors randomly closing for the regular frights of the film – all of which are just no longer scary anymore. The direction manages to lack all ability to add mood and tone. Leonetti is not  opinionated nor deliberate in his styling and does little to assist in the few scares that are in the film.

Perhaps Annabelle suffers from overly high and unrealistic expectations. I can’t help but feel that if the production companies New Line Cinema and The Safran Company had not rushed to capitalize on The Conjuring’s success and waited for a better script and more qualified director that overall a better film would have been produced.