Coming from the makers of The Conjuring, its spin-off Annabelle pales in comparison, says Paloma Sharma.
Annabelle opens with a trio of nursing students talking into a handy cam, as they share the story (as told to them by a psychic) of the weird redhead doll sitting next to them on a chair, wearing the satisfied expression of a lunatic on LSD.
The film then goes into flashback to a year ago, when TV still had antennae you needed to adjust, to a couple who are expecting a child.
Miya (Annabelle Wallis) and John Gordon (Ward Horton) are your average, upper middle class white couple who seem to have a perfect life yet, an air of foreboding hangs over them.
Miya is heavily pregnant while John is trying to work his way through medical school, which causes him enough anxiety to say everything that one isn't supposed to say to a pregnant woman.
But his aren't the only behavioural problems the couple has to deal with. Miya likes to collect porcelain dolls that either play music or laugh like Cruella De Ville inhaled helium.
Miya places these dolls in the nursery that has been prepared for the new baby.
One day, John brings home a doll, a supposed collector's item, for Miya to complete her collection. No points for guessing who this doll turns out to be.
Predictably, strange things start happening. Miya begins to see shadows and hear voices. As it turns out, the doll, called Annabelle, is possessed by the spirit of a woman who was involved in an occult and committed suicide.
The couple try to get rid of Annabelle but when they move to another house to escape what they think is a curse, they find Annabelle at the bottom of a cardboard box -- she won't go away until she gets their baby's soul.
Have you seen a film more original than this?
Instead of a haunted mirror or house, there's a haunted doll! Instead of a piano playing on its own in another room in the middle of the night, there's a sewing machine that goes off on its own in the middle of the night!
Furthermore, to top it all, there's even an African woman who can sense what's wrong as soon as she sees Miya and her baby, knows about cults and ends up making the ultimate sacrifice for the family.
Isn't that just so original?
One of the scariest things about Annabelle is the clichés that it so righteously overdoses on.
One simply cannot expect the unexpected in this film.
The script focuses far too much on the relationship between husband and wife, which itself seems more faux than my fur muffler.
Very little is revealed about Annabelle, the cult and their motivations.
Instead, the audience is forced to endure the lovey dovey moments between the couple which are saturated with such sweetness that watching it will give you a sugar rush.
Annabelle Wallis deadpans for the most part while Horton turns in a bit of a lacklustre performance.
It is difficult to distinguish whether it is Horton who is doing his job halfheartedly or whether it is John, who, due to a total lack of character development and back story, just avoids situations and remains largely unfazed by attacks on the family he claims to love the most.
The background music, though nothing fresh, does manage to convey more than the visuals usually do.
There is a total of one scary scene where Miya goes up to a dark corridor in the elevator and finds herself trapped with an unknown entity and that's coming from someone who needs a night light to be able to sleep.
Basically, Annabelle is Chucky in drag -- which is funny because drag is the exact term I'd use to describe the film.
Coming from the very people who gave us The Conjuring, Annabelle moves slower than a snail trying to book a ticket on the IRCTC website.
If you're looking for a scare, look into your 8th grade math textbooks. All that the theatre can offer you in this case is a deep, dreamless sleep.