Archive for the ‘Annabelle (2014)’ Category

Blu-ray Cover

Distributor: Warner Brothers

Release Date: January 20, 2015

Region: Region A

Length: 99 min

Video: 1080P (MPEG-4, AVC)

Main Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio

Alternate Audio:

5.1 French (Canada) Dolby Digital Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French

Ratio: 2.40:1

Notes: Annabelle is be available on Blu-ray Combo Pack, and includes the film in high definition on Blu-ray disc, a DVD, and a digital version of the movie in Digital HD with UltraViolet. Fans can also own Annabelle via purchase from digital retailers, and a DVD only version of the film is also available. The DVD disc does not include all of the supplemental material.

“It’s not a sequel to The Conjuring, but it’s a stand-alone movie that is part of a really cool franchise …The Conjuring is a classy horror film that’s different than most in our day and time—it’s a different kind of horror movie—I believe that Annabelle is, too.” -John R. Leonetti (Backstage)

She terrified you in The Conjuring, but this is where it all began for Annabelle. Capable of unspeakable evil, the actual doll exists locked up in an occult museum in Connecticut—visited only by a priest who blesses her twice a month. New Line Cinema’s supernatural thriller Annabelle begins before the evil was unleashed.

John Form has found the perfect gift for his expectant wife, Mia—a beautiful, rare vintage doll in a pure white wedding dress. But Mia’s delight with Annabelle doesn’t last long. On one horrific night, their home is invaded by members of a satanic cult, who violently attack the couple. Spilled blood and terror are not all they leave behind. The cultists have conjured an entity so malevolent that nothing they did will compare to the sinister conduit to the damned that is now…Annabelle.

Annabelle was directed by John R. Leonetti, who served as cinematographer on The Conjuring. James Wan, director of The Conjuring, produced Annabelle along with Peter Safran. Richard Brener, Walter Hamada, Dave Neustadter and Hans Ritter served as executive producers for the film which came from the script written by Gary Dauberman.

This is the kind of film that was done brilliantly in the 1970s, but recent films always seem to fall short to some extent. If any mainstream contemporary filmmaker has a grasp on this kind of material, it is James Wan. However, he tends to repeat himself quite a lot. His images remind us of other James Wan images, and the stories that he tells are extremely similar to one another (with a few possible exceptions). It is difficult to know whether one should hold this against him. After all, an artist is often recognizable for more than his signature at the bottom of the paintings he creates.

Wan’s position as the producer of Annabelle has left a few of his fingerprints upon the final product, but these fingerprints were smudged by John R. Leonetti’s move to the director’s chair. Leonetti’s work as director of photography has helped Wan to create the excellent mood, and iconic imagery that make his films so popular. Unfortunately, Leonetti’s work as a director is not nearly as effective. This might be because when Leonetti moved to the director’s chair, James Kniest took the position of cinematographer. The photography in The Conjuring is more effective than anything seen in Annabelle (and one cannot simply blame the film’s lower budget). However, the film doesn’t suffer nearly as much as many critics suggested upon the film’s theatrical release.

It is true that Annabelle relies on standard horror tropes, but most genre films (including The Conjuring) rely on already established devices. Someday, the horror film will be reinvigorated. The language will be rewritten, and then these new devices will become the standard.

It is important to remain realistic when analyzing these films. Sure, this film is incredibly derivative. Intelligent audience members probably had this figured out before walking into the theater. Annabelle is never going to go down in history as an essential horror classic, but horror fanatics will probably enjoy watching it whenever they find themselves with nothing else to do… but, one imagines that they could always watch one of the many better horror films available.

The Presentation:

3.5 of 5 Stars

The disc is protected in the standard Blu-ray case with film related artwork, and the case is protected by a slipcover showcasing the same artwork.

The discs static menu is enhanced by the sound design employed in the film.

Picture Quality:

4.5 of 5 Stars

While James Kniest’s photograph doesn’t approach the moody effectiveness of John R. Leonetti’s work in The Conjuring, his images seem to be represented well on this transfer. The image is surprisingly clean with nice detail and decent resolution. Contrast levels are handled nicely, with black levels that are consistently solid. Colors seem to be accurately rendered as well.

Sound Quality:

4.5 of 5 Stars

The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is rather bombastic, and Annabelle relies on the audio track to supply many of the film’s scares. There is very little subtlety in the film’s sound design, with music and sound effects becoming the filmmaker’s main resource for frightening the audience. The disc’s lossless sound transfer showcases the film’s sound design admirably. Dialogue is always clear and intelligible. The music and ambiance is clear, and loud noises are never distorted (as the track gives them plenty of room to breath).

Special Features:

3 of 5 Stars

Deleted Scenes

It is always nice to see what is left on the cutting room floor, and this selection of deleted scenes is the most significant supplemental feature on the disc. Fans of the film are given over twenty minutes of deleted material.

The Curse of Annabelle

The cast and crew of Annabelle discuss the film, and some of the slightly unusual events that happened during the production. Everyone interviewed seems to believe that the production was cursed in some way. This isn’t really a proper look at the film’s production, and is simply a piece of EPK fluff (as is the case with too many Blu-ray featurettes). However, fans will probably be happy to have it included here.

Bloody Tears of Possession

This short featurette discusses getting one of the film’s more lengthy shots for one of Annabelle’s most important scenes. Fans will find some of the ‘behind the scenes’ footage, but it never really relates any actual information to the audience. It is basically another EPK fluff piece that is heavy on back-patting, and short on anecdotes from the set.

Dolls of the Demon

This piece improves on the previous two featurettes only slightly, but does actually give viewers a glimpse at what went into decorating the set. It is certainly worth watching if you are a fan of the film.

A Demonic Process

My favorite featurette looks at the make-up effects used to create the film’s demon. Here we see actual ‘behind the scenes’ footage while participants discuss the film’s make-up design (and how it was created). This is definitely the most significant featurette included on the disc.

Annabelle Poster 2

Final Words:

Fans will be happy to know that Annabelle arrives on Blu-ray with an excellent picture and sound transfer. However, those with creepy dolls in their house may want to put them in a glass case (or have them blessed by a priest) before watching this particular film. One can never be too careful.