The Conjuring’s Annabelle and Influences


I apologize if you are a James Wan fan. I desperately tried to give a man a chance. I do believe that inside Wan is a man of talent, that someday he could make a great film, but he is not that man yet.

I don’t want to get too deeply into my distaste for his work. I’ve seen Saw, I’ve seen the Conjuring and I was honestly excited about both movies before I saw them. They both have elements that I am really attracted to in horror, great art direction, excellent characters (on paper) an intelligent killer, a spectral mystery etc.

I think what really bugs me about Wan is that he feels like a kid who grew up legitimately loving horror movies and in his head he had a Lego box of all these wonderful ideas and like a little kid he shook that Lego box as hard as he could, dumped all of those pieces on the floor and made a movie.

When you watch a movie produced, written or directed by Wan you can see all of these influences. I am a man who celebrates homages, but there is a fuzzy line that can be crossed like when an artist instead of free handing a drawing that pays tribute to someone who inspired them they drop a piece of tracing paper over a work and pass it off as their own.

Now that comparison to Wan’s work is a bit more brutal than reality, but I think you get my point. Wan has been given a lot of money, a lot of power in the movie world and I expect a lot out of the man. With all that influence and training he could be making some truly great things, but I have seen all his films before, in segments that are part of other movies.  They look great, they have all the right elements, but in the end there is nothing connecting the pieces together and it falls apart.  I’ll take Drag Me to Hell over The Conjuring any day of the week.

What you see above was the final straw for me.  The first time I saw Annabelle’s face I knew I had seen it before and it wasn’t long before I made the connection.  Magic, the 1978 film directed by Richard Attenborough (John Hammond from Jurassic Park) about a severely disturbed man or a possessed ventriloquist dummy depending on your point of view.

It is very clear that Annabelle owes a lot of the design to the dummy in Magic, even in the cropped poster above, pretty shameless as far as I am concerned, even if it doesn’t affect the box office receipts.  Worth noting though is that the dummy in Magic is clearly modeled after a young Anthony Hopkins and when they designed Annabelle’s features they transferred all of those features over.  Basically Annabelle is Anthony Hopkins in drag.

I’m not saying don’t go see Annabelle or that you are wrong to like James Wan’s work.  Lord knows that there are plenty of things that I love that other horror fans hold their noses over.  I personally like to understand influences in films and where they came from, usually they enhance my enjoyment of the film.  In this case it just results in me giving James Wan the side eye.