Annabelle (Blu-ray Review)

AnnabelleAnnabelle has the success of 2013’s supernatural thriller The Conjuring to thank for its mere existence on our planet.  If you take away nothing else from this Blu-ray review, make sure you please engrave that in your memory banks, the non-volatile ones.  Annabelle was an evil possessed doll (think Chucky-like) whose first appearance was also in…dun…dun…da…The Conjuring too.  So if I was a betting man, I would think it kind of makes sense now when I tell you that Annabelle is a prequel of sort to the events in The Conjuring, basically a story of where it all begins, for Annabelle of course.  However you spin, there’s no doubt about it that Annabelle was a cash cow for New Line/Warner Bros.  Let’s take a closer look at why.

Annabelle (Blu-ray Review)


Annabelle stars Annabelle Wallis (X-Men: First Class) and Ward Horton (The Wolf of Wall Street) as Mia and John Form, Oscar nominee Alfre Woodard (Cross Creek, 12 Years a Slave) as Evelyn, a neighbor who owns a bookstore, Kerry O’Malley (Those Who Kill) and Brian Howe (Devil’s Knot) as neighbors Sharon and Pete Higgins, Tony Amendola (Once Upon A Time) as Father Perez and Eric Ladin (Boardwalk Empire) as Detective Clarkin.  The difference between this and The Conjuring is a whole can of worms we will eventually open here, but cosmetically speaking, it’s not directed by James Wan.  It’s helmed by John R. Leonetti, who served as cinematographer on The Conjuring.  However, that’s not to say James Wan did not have any involvement in this.  He did serve as a producer.

As stated up above, The Conjuring is where it all began for Annabelle.  In the aforementioned film, the actual Annabelle doll exists locked up in an occult museum in Connecticut, visited only by a priest who blesses her twice a month.  So I guess you can say New Line Cinema’s supernatural thriller Annabelle is a prequel as it not only exists before the events in The Conjuring, but it begins before the evil was even unleashed.

John Form thought he found the perfect gift for his expectant wife, Mia.  To her, it’s a beautiful, rare vintage doll in a pure white wedding dress.  However, to me, Annabelle is one hell of an ugly doll, but I digress because thankfully Mia’s delight with Annabelle doesn’t last long after a tragic home invasion.  Yep, you heard me right, one fateful night the Form’s home was broken into by members of a satanic cult, who violently attack the couple.  Let’s just say not everyone survives the ordeal and an evil, malevolent conduit inherits the body of the doll Annabelle.  This is why I said to think Chucky or Child’s Play, but I think that’s kind of self-explanatory anyway.

First of all, I’m a sucker for these kind of period piece films, a time before cell phones, computers and social media.  How awesome does that sound?  It sounds completely awesome to me, but I digress.  In reality Annabelle is not an effective horror film.  Sure it has The Conjuring spinoff or prequel billing going for it, but I truly believe the actual true story upon which it is based off of is more frightening, at least to me it is.  However, despite the many negative reviews the film received upon release it managed to gross over $255 million against its $6.5 million production budget, making it one of the highest grossing horror films of all time.  How do you like those apples?

So here’s my take on it.  For a period piece, I loved it.  I thought the performances were all satisfactory too.  However, it’s the generic scares and jolts that didn’t win me over.  Instead of harnessing the creepy Rosemary Baby vibe the film had going on throughout it borrowed heavily from cliche horror tactics for no other reason than just to try and make you jump out of your seat.  It did not work for me.  The Annabelle doll is scary to me, but perhaps what is most terrifying is the fact that someone would actually collect those or even want these ugly dolls in their house.  On the flip side, I guess the same could be said for my Star Wars lightsaber collection too, huh?  The demon was cool, but there’s really nothing that stands out here that makes me want to exclaim drop everything and go see it.  It’s just a very mediocre outing and more of a guilty pleasure for me more than anything else.

I was hoping my second viewing of Annabelle on Blu-ray would sway my original theatrical feelings, but sadly they remained unchanged.  However, that’s not to say that everyone hated it.  There’s word that they may be working on a sequel or a potential franchise.  Quite frankly, I would love to see Annabelle move some more like Chucky.  And speaking of Chucky, word is Don Mancini is interested in a possible Chucky and Annabelle joint venture.  Please God, hear my prayers.  Don’t let this happen.  That is all.

Annabelle (Blu-ray Review)


Warner Bros. hasn’t disappointed us as of late with their A/V presentations on the Blu-ray format, have they?  Absolutely not!  And guess what?!  They don’t disappoint here either!  Despite the lackluster film we’re watching here, I still loved what I saw, every minute of it.

  • Encoding: AVC MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.4:1
  • Clarity/Detail: For a film shrouded in darkness and shadows, the details look impeccable here.  It’s all abound here from the fine detail in the multitude of woodwork throughout, quilt patterns and most noticeably, Tony Amendola’s acne scars.
  • Depth: The fine detail really makes the foreground and onscreen characters pop three-dimensionally throughout.  It’s amazing too because how much time this film spends in the dark.  Just one look at the rows of pews in the church pretty much sells me on the depth of field here, even in tight corners such as the Form’s Pasadena apartment.
  • Black Levels: Like the detail and clarity, the black levels are also impeccable here, deep and inky.
  • Color Reproduction: You would be right if you expected mostly dull and muted colors here, since things are primarily played out in the shadows throughout.  However, that doesn’t mean the greens can’t pop outside when we’re within arm’s reach of our sun’s loving rays.
  • Flesh Tones: The skin tones all look healthy and natural throughout with that period vibe going for them.
  • Noise/Artifacts: I did not notice anything negative throughout the presentation to report on here.  Things look outstanding.

Annabelle (Blu-ray Review)


Annabelle arrives on the Blu-ray format courtesy of Warner Bros. with a scary soundtrack that actually frightens you more than the film itself with its aggressive beats that knock you around.

  • Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, English Audio Description
  • Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish, French
  • Dynamics: I honestly couldn’t be happier with the way this one sounds.  It was eerily silent when it needed it to be and in your face loud when the onscreen moments and potential scares called for it.
  • Low Frequency Extension: From the guns shots, thuds, knocks and slamming doors to the sharp shrills of the score and screams, the LFE channel kept its presence known throughout as a force not to be reckoned with, not of the parietal world, but of ours the physical one.
  • Surround Sound PresentationAnnabelle on Blu-ray shines in the surround department where everything is meticulously balanced in the presentation from the eery atmospheric effects to the engulfing score that literally swells up around you.
  • Dialogue Reproduction: I have zero qualms in the spoken dialogue department either.  Every spoken word was loud, clear and intelligible.  You’re welcome!

Annabelle (Blu-ray Review)


Annabelle will be available on Blu-ray Combo Pack  January 20th, which includes the film in high definition on Blu-ray disc, a DVD, and a digital version of the movie in Digital HD with UltraViolet.  So while I’m happy there is a Digital HD version of the film for my anytime mobile viewing of actress Annabelle Wallis, there’s not to much else to offer here in the special features department.  Given the passion that John R. Leonetti had for this project, it would have been nice to at least have an audio commentary track.  There’s really only a total of five items to tackle here so what do you say I quit stalling and start discussing them, eh?  Here we go!

  • The Curse of Annabelle (HD, 5:30) – James Wan starts this off as he talks about the Warrens and how his favorite case of theirs is that of Annabelle.  The cast and crew also chime in about what they liked in regards to the story of Annabelle here.  Finally, we also get to hear about all the supposedly supernatural and creepy things that went awry and happened on the set of the film.
  • Bloody Tears of Possession (HD, 5:32) – This one takes a closer look at the scene which sets the reality of the situation here, the Annabelle Higgins murder in the Form’s house.  The cast and crew all discuss the events here and we even take a closer look at the hows and why of the impressive one-shot employed here.
  • Dolls of the Demon (HD, 4:04) – Finally in this extra we get the real feelings of the actress who played Mia as we witness the first time she sees the very creepy face of Annabelle.  So I guess you can gather by the name of this extra, this one’s all about the doll(s).  It takes a closer look at the distress the filmmakers do unto the dolls employed throughout the film.
  • A Demonic Process ( HD, 4:59) – John R. Leonetti is the one who pushed hard for more demon in this film as there was initially not much of it in the original screenplay.  So this one takes a much closer look at the makeup used to bring the demon to life.  And also once again, it’s the film’s composer who’s the demon here like in Insidious too.
  • Deleted Scenes (HD, 20:35) – In my opinion, there’s a lot of deleted scenes to be found here with the inclusion of a Play All option too.  The deleted scenes included here are: “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”
  • Trailers (HD) – Trailers for The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Inherent Vice and Horrible Bosses 2 can be found on this Blu-ray disc.

Annabelle (Blu-ray Review)


Let’s put it this way, Annabelle‘s not going to win any prizes.  It wasn’t a very good movie when I saw it theatrically and it doesn’t get anymore points from me the second time around on Blu-ray either.  However, let the record show, like Brandon Peters here at Why So Blu, I have a weakness.  I can suffer at times from being a completist and since I did not completely despise Annabelle in all the ways I did the fifth Die Hard film, I want it in my collection to go alongside The Conjuring, but not in that particular order as that would be out of alphabetical order then.  If you can find the good in Annabelle, then you’ll thoroughly enjoy this Blu-ray presentation as it benefits from exceptional audio and video and a fun bunch extras, although brief ones.


Annabelle haunts on Blu-ray Combo Pack January 20th.






Annabelle Blu-ray


Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

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