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How Annabelle Almost made me cry



2014
Directed By John R Leonetti 
Starring Ward Horton and Annabelle Wallis 

I'm sure the title of this pseudo-review will lead some people to think that I'm being ironic or setting myself up for a punchline but neither of these are remotely true. I was in fact almost brought to tears while watching Annabelle. A specific scene in the film was so close to home that I hesitated in writing this because I'm sure it will come across as a lie or at the very least an exaggeration. No, I've never done battle with doll possessed with the spirit of satanic cult member but I was in house fire. I was in a house fire that happened while I was making popcorn. I was in house fire that happened while I was making popcorn and my wife was four months pregnant. If you've seen Annabelle that story might sound somewhat familiar. 

John Form (Ward Horton) has found the perfect gift for his expectant wife, Mia (Annabelle Wallis) - a rare doll that (for reasons that are beyond my understanding) she finds lovely. The doll completes her set and I guess it would be something like a Star Wars enthusiast getting a copy of the Ewok's Christmas special. But Mia's delight with her doll doesn't last long. On one horrific night, their home is invaded by members of a satanic cult, who violently attack the couple. Both attackers are killed but before she dies the female grabs Annabelle and drips her dying blood into the dolls eye socket. Something far more sinister than a home invasion has occurred.

Shortly after the horrific break in it becomes clear that something strange is going on in the Gordon household. Peculiar noises and movement in the shadows steadily grow as our protagonists are reeling in the aftermath of their violent attack. One night an aluminum popcorn container is left on the stove top but the burner is turned off. The next morning the burner is turned on by Annabelle while Mia is in her bedroom using her sewing machine. The popcorn is left on and starts a fire in the kitchen. 

On a quick side note, pregnant women have insanely good senses of smell. It helps to protect the baby while in utero. There is no way a pregnant woman wouldn't notice popcorn cooking in the next room let alone a fire. Yes, I am willing to accept a  possessed doll has the power to float and kill people but I will not accept that she couldn't smell the popcorn. That sir is a bridge too far.

The couple attends church every Sunday and shortly after the birth of their daughter the priest asks to take a picture of the young family. During their brief exchange the priest explains that they have seen both the best and worst of life in a short period of time. He goes onto discuss how a pendulum shift like that is enough to throw anyone off.

While I was in the hospital recovering from my burns my wife and I hit the lowest point of our relationship. I was angry, confused, drugged up out of my mind for three weeks and undergoing multiple surgeries. She was pregnant and alone. The hospital I was staying in was over 100 miles away. My job didn't allow me to use my vacation pay while I was out and my wife was only working part time. We didn't live paycheck to paycheck but our savings was diminishing quickly. Financial, physical and emotional stress were at the highest points we had ever experienced. We both needed someone to be there for us and neither of us could be there for one another. 

The day my son was born was without a doubt the most amazing day of my life. Pure elation. I wish  I was a more skilled writer so I could explain the depths of joy I felt the moment I laid eyes on Joshua. I've led a pretty remarkable life and have been fortunate enough to have experienced many beautiful days but that day... it was perfect. Every cliche you've read about parenting is true and yet you are in no way prepared for how amazing that moment is. No words can encapsulate that feeling and that's ok. 

I'd like to say that as soon as my son was born everything was great between me and my wife but its not true. We had grown into some selfish habits and it took a few months to shake them. It took having this beautiful boy in our home who absolutely needed everything from us to get us out of our own heads. We became more selfless, more open, more compassionate, more willing to listen to one another and be empathetic. Our son taught us what it meant to be ourselves again and to be people that we never thought we could be.

So when the priest explained that pendulum swinging bit, my wife took my hand and gently touched my scars. I have never had a moment in my life be reflected on screen in that way. If I would have given into the moment I'm sure I would have cried but instead I was so shocked by what I was seeing on screen I smiled and felt the goose flesh rise on both my arms.

I didn't really care for the movie but that was the best moment I will have in a theater all year.  

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