This spin-off from last year’s 70s horror The Conjuring sees cute young married couple (Annabelle Wallis as Mia, and Ward Horton as John) who are about to have their first child surrounded by 70s Amerciana. John gives his wife a large china doll, and after they fail to realise it’s turning the oven on and trying to kill Mia by burning the house down, the couple sensibly decide to throw it away as they move to another state.
Mysteriously, the doll turns up at their new place. And the couple *still* doesn’t suspect anything and give it pride of place amount their disturbingly large collection in the newborn’s nursery.
Humour turns up in the wrong places, as there’s the helpful bookseller who on hearing that Mia is looking for a book to ward off evil spirits, as she now realises her family is haunted, responds promptly: “Aisle four, follow me.” Now you try getting that kind of service in your local bookshop.
Director John R Leonetti has all horror cliché alerts present and correct: Mia’s new book describes nasty things about to arrive! there’s a big enough china doll collection to open “Creepy China Dolls R Us”! There’s a blonde doll which giggles creepily when you pull the cord in its back, like a demonic Shirley Temple! The disturbing neighbourhood children who don't want to talk while busily drawing crayon pictures! Mia gets an inexplicable urge to go to the dark and gloomy basement! There’s a lift that then doesn't work when she sees something disturbing and need to get back to her flat!
Things get even more predictable when the next door kids start leaving crayon drawings depicting Mia and the baby being run over by a truck. As might be expected, a priest is called in to remove the doll but nothing goes according to plan, the truck turns up after all. Instead of frightening, the film substitutes crooked camera angles meant to convey menace, plenty of dark and stormy nights, and electrical appliances switching themselves on to cook some killer popcorn. However, nothing’s as disturbing as 70s wallpaper.
Writer Gary Dauberman has the film wears its horror heart on its sleeve: it seems to be trying desperately to be a mashup of Rosemary’s Baby (pregnant woman bedevilled by curse) meets Chucky (disturbing doll with evil life if its own messes with family), with a reference thrown in to a Twilight Zone episode featuring a living doll called Talky Tina. Sadly, given the amount of giggling in the audience, the only most frightening thing about this film is the fact it was made.
Horror mashup that makes 'em laugh, makes 'em cry and...yawn. Where's Chucky when you need him?