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Annabelle Blu-Ray Review

Blu-Ray Review- Annabelle

Distributor: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment

Street Date: January 20th 2015

Technical Specifications: 1080P Video, Color, 2.40:1 Aspect Ratio, 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio

Runtime: 98 Minutes

Annabelle (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment)

Annabelle (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment)

The Film:

When The Conjuring was released in 2013, it made me believe that quality modern day Horror films could still be made in this day and age. I’m a classic Horror fan…an admirer of everything from the Universal Monsters to Hammer Films and even the cheesy cult-classic slashers of the 80’s. But modern Horror has left me wanting so much more. Gone are the days of unsettling genre pictures filled with style and atmosphere that truly terrified audiences, and unfortunately, what we’ve been left with for the past twenty years would mostly fit into the “torture porn” category.

But James Wan crafted The Conjuring with grace and style, a motion picture filled with atmosphere, dedicated performances, and a throwback aura that mirrored that of the great Horror entries from the 1970’s (The Exorcist, The Amityville Horror, etc.). When I heard that Warner Bros. planned to make a spin-off prequel featuring Annabelle (a doll expertly yet briefly utilized in The Conjuring), my hopes were high. Unfortunately without the assured direction of James Wan and a direct-to-video feel this time around, Annabelle fails to conjure up the scares of its predecessor.

In the film we meet Mia and John Form (Annabelle Wallis, Ward Horton), a young married couple who have recently settled down in Santa Monica, California. The couple is expecting their first child soon as John makes his way through medical school and Mia tends to the house by day (this is the 1960’s after all). When the next door neighbors’ cult-member daughter returns home after running away years prior, she kills her parents and attacks the Form’s in the middle of the night, possessing the Annabelle doll before she dies in a hail of Police gunfire.

Sometime later Mia and John relocate to an apartment in Pasadena with their baby girl Leah, but the Annabelle doll that John discarded at their old house has somehow found its way into one of their moving boxes. As you would expect given her history, Annabelle and the demon that uses her as a conduit wreak havoc on the Form’s and their baby daughter. With the help of a local priest (Tony Amendola) and a bookstore employee with a tragic past (Alfre Woodard), Mia and John attempt to rid their home of this evil once and for all.

Annabelle is not without its share of jump-scares and creepy moments, but they are too few and far between for a film of this length, like clever architectural design choices on a building with a crumbling foundation. The story itself and the events that unfold are simply too familiar and borrowed from other, better films. The performances are all very earnest, especially from Annabelle Wallis and Alfre Woodard, but they fail to rescue the film from its sheer lack of originality. I do hope that with James Wan back in the director’s chair for the upcoming The Conjuring: The Enfield Poltergeist, we’ll get a stylish return back to feeling of the first film, as Annabelle unfortunately left me unfulfilled.

Video Quality:

This Blu-Ray edition from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment features a very nice high definition video presentation with incredibly solid black levels, plenty of pristine fine object detail to behold, and a color palette that is pleasing to the eye. There isn’t a single instance of dirt, debris, or artifacts throughout, making for a very clean and strong presentation.

Audio Quality:

The 5.1 DTS-HD audio regularly balances dialogue, the creepy musical score, and background effects with ease, making for a terrific audio experience at home. The few jump scares the film has to offer are very effective on this surround track, and again, Warner Bros. has done a great job on the technical side of things.

Special Features:

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has provided fans of Annabelle with some frightful bonus features to accompany this Blu-Ray release. Here’s a breakdown of what’s included:

  • The Curse of Annabelle- Running about 5 ½ minutes, this short featurette focuses on the inception of this spin-off entry and the true story that inspired both films featuring the now-famous Annabelle doll that currently resides in the Warren Occult museum. Cast and crew discuss their fascination with Ed and Lorraine Warren’s careers, as well as some spooky shenanigans that happened behind-the-scenes of the film.
  • Bloody Tears of Possession- This one also runs about 5 ½ minutes and details the cinematography and camera work involved in the making of the film. Much is discussed about trying to capture a suspenseful atmosphere with innovative camerawork and a particularly long-shot during the initial assault on the Form’s house in Santa Monica.
  • Dolls of the Demon- This featurette runs just over 4 minutes and centers on the Annabelle doll herself, along with some discussion about various dolls in Horror cinema and their seemingly innocent nature that somehow brings the goose-bumps.
  • A Demonic Process- Another nearly 5 minute featurette that focuses on the demon of the film and his gargoyle-esque look from the folks at KNB effects. The composer for the film (Joseph Bishara), who has also played the demons in both Insidious films and The Conjuring, also plays the demon here. We get some footage of the sculpting and makeup application process which is pretty fun.
  • Deleted Scenes- Included here are 8 different scenes that were deleted from the film including: Meet Fuller the Landlord, Baby Bath/Fuller Fixes the Sink, Bugs in a Bottle, Infestation, Attack, Scratches & Father Perez’s arrival, Mia Wakes Up, and Demonic Kidnapping/Carnage. Everything is presented in High Definition and has final music/editing cues in place, leading us to believe that these scenes were excised at the last minute. Some of the cut scenes are surprisingly effective, and others involving a creepy landlord and bugs in the baby’s bottle were definitely better left on the cutting room floor.

The Packaging:

As you can see from the “Unboxing” pictures below, this Blu-Ray combo pack edition from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment features artwork that mimics the theatrical poster campaign with Annabelle herself on the slipcover. It’s an effective tease for the film, but I do wish that Warner Bros. had made it a lenticular one to pair nicely with their awesome lenticular “clap” cover for The Conjuring on Blu-Ray. On the back of the packaging you’ll find a very brief plot synopsis, a list of special features, and technical specifications. Inside of the case are two very plain black discs; one Blu-ray and one DVD, along with an insert featuring the Ultraviolet digital copy code and an advertisement for the upcoming game Dying Light.

Annabelle (reverse)

Annabelle (reverse)

Annabelle (interior)

Annabelle (interior)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Final Report:

Though I truly loved The Conjuring for its throwback 70’s style, genuinely unsettling atmosphere, and effective chills set against a true story, Annabelle fails to conjure up the scares of its predecessor. This spin-off entry is not without its share of jump-scares and creepy moments, but they are too few and far between for a film of this length and budget, like clever architectural design choices on a building with a crumbling foundation. The good news here is that the Blu-Ray disc video and audio quality are expertly crafted by the folks at Warner Bros., making for a great home viewing experience. Fans of the film will appreciate the special features that, while short, offer up some fun behind-the-scenes anecdotes for the film. I really wanted to like Annabelle, but unfortunately she was better left as a singular creepy element to a much better film.

Yours Truly,

Doctor Macabre

Annabelle Promotional Doll with Blu-Ray Combo Pack

Annabelle Promotional Doll with Blu-Ray Combo Pack

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