Blu-ray Review “Annabelle”

Starring: Alfre Woodard, Annabelle Wallis, Eric Ladin, Tony Amendola (I), Michelle Romano, Ward Horton
Director: John R. Leonetti
Rated: R (Restricted)
Studio: Warner Home Video
Release Date: January 20, 2015
Run Time: 98 minutes

Film: 3 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

Raise your hand, who loved the character Annabelle from James Wan’s “The Conjuring”? She creeped the hell out of us all. This spin-off was based over from Wan to John R. Leonetti, who served as cinematographer on “The Conjuring”. If you loved “The Conjuring” though, it doesn’t mean that you will love “Annabelle”. The back story was decent but the major scares from “The Conjuring” are almost all but missing. There are two or three good scans courtesy of my buddy Joseph Bishara (aka the demon), other than that, this feels more like a TV version spin-off of a great horror film.  The cast of “Annabelle” includes Annabelle Wallis (“X-Men: First Class”), Ward Horton (“The Wolf of Wall Street”), Oscar nominee Alfre Woodard (“Cross Creek,” “12 Years a Slave”), Kerry O’Malley (TV’s “Those Who Kill”), Brian Howe (“Devil’s Knot”), Tony Amendola (TV’s “Once Upon A Time”) and Eric Ladin (TV’s “Boardwalk Empire”).

Official Premise: 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” released by Warner Bros as a combo pack with a Blu-ray disc, a DVD, and a digital version of the movie in Digital HD with UltraViolet. The 1080p transfer is good. There isn’t really music dazzle in this low-budget horror film to make it stand out. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 does shine though with Joseph Bishara’s score (yes, the guy who also played the demon), which is definitely a highlight for the film. The special features are decent but a little short and lacking a commentary track. There are four featurettes including “The Curse of Annabelle”, “Bloody Tears of Possession”, “Dolls of the Demon” and “A Demonic Process”. If you enjoyed the films, the special features are certainly worth checking out. Lastly there are a few deleted scenes included.

Own “Annabelle” on Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD, and Digital HD on January 20th

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  • Joseph Bishara talks about his role and his score in the film “Annabelle”

    Photo by Dean Karr

    Joseph Bishara is the amazing composer for horror films like “Insidious”, “The Conjuring” and most recently “Annabelle”. He is also probably the cause of a few of your nightmares since he played great characters like Lipstick-Face Demon in “Insidious” and Bathsheba in “The Conjuring”. Joseph took out some time to chat with Media Mikes again about his new film “Annabelle” and what we can expect.

    Mike Gencarelli: From your role of Lipstick-Face Demon in “Insidious” to Bathsheba in “The Conjuring” to your latest role in “Annabelle”; what do you enjoy most about getting to play these roles?
    Joseph Bishara: I like being able to look through the eyes of these characters, and getting to have a different perspective and take on the film. It’s seeing the scenes unfold from the inside. They were all very interesting characters to explore.

    MG: We got to learn about your character in “Insidious” and “The Conjuring” but not much in “Annabelle”, give us some background on your role?
    JB: It’s the demon that’s attached to the doll. When discussing the character with James (Wan), his take described it more specifically, as Lorraine Warren would explain as a “latching demonic”.

    MG: Which of the three was the most challenging for you?
    JB: I would have to say “The Conjuring” because it was the most time I was on set and also the longest to get into the makeup. “Insidious” was challenging also but it was different because it was more guerrilla filmmaking, where we had to make do with what we had to work with.

    MG: How does it feel like to give a grown man nightmares with these roles?
    JB: [laughs] That’s a good thing. I won’t apologize for anyone losing sleep, everyone needs to have nightmares.

    MG: You not only have roles in the above-mentioned films but you also are the composer delivering spin-tingling scores; what do you enjoy most about working in this genre?
    JB: It’s the genre that I feel most comfortable in, and with the directors that I have worked with I have been given a lot of freedom to take the scores in the directions I wanted. Horror is always a favorite of mine and I just really enjoy creating in that space.

    MG: “Insidious” is easily one of the best horror scores in recent years; how do you approach a score when you are working with the film?
    JB: When I start on a score, I just start hearing it in my head often from the moment it starts being discussed. I can’t really explain it but if the project is right, ideas will just come. It’s finding what the language is and isn’t, and then speaking it.

    MG: What can we expect from you in terms of role and composer in “Insidious: Chapter 3″?
    JB: I can’t say much just yet, but Leigh did an excellent job with it and brings a bit of a different flavor. Hopefully you’ll lose more sleep.

    For more info, check out his official sites: www.jbishara.com and www.voidrecordings.com