The other day, I went to see a movie. It was two P.M.; I was alone. The theater nearest our apartment is extremely comfortable, with large, fluffy, fully reclining seats and swinging armrests for easy canoodling. Yet the movies on the screen are never romantic. Most are big-budget fare full of CGI and superheroes and emoji. There’s rarely something I’d pay almost twenty dollars to see.
On this day, however, they were showing the latest film about the demonic doll. In fact, this latest is the prequel to the other Annabelle films; it tells the backstory of the doll’s possession. To my disappointment, it did nothing to address the question of why Annabelle resembles an especially grotesque Charlie McCarthy marionette in a Carol Burnett wig.
Doll horror movies are rarely scary, which is strange given how uncanny many people find dolls themselves. Still, they have become a tired trope. As with clowns, the idea of the doll is at this point scarier than any on-screen reality. (Besides, if you do finds dolls inherently frightening, there’s not much narrative tension to be gained from their turning evil.) But I always go to see any movie in which a doll plays the part of a murderous villain. And although I am a great defender of doll life and have never found my own dolls the least bit sinister, I will admit that one of the scariest ghost stories I’ve ever heard revolved around a doll. Read More