** out of ****
The creepy doll featured in 2013's The Conjuring now has its own movie. So, this is a spin-off and not a direct prequel, as the characters played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga do not appear. The doll, named Annabelle after the woman whose evil spirit inhabits it, is just used as a vessel and doesn't run around murdering people like Chucky in Child's Play (1988).
Satan worshipers intent on human sacrifices break into the home of nice, dull couple John and Mia (Ward Horton, Annabelle Wallis). Luckily, the five-o show up and shoot the satanic disciples dead. But, ha! The spirit of the female perpetrator slithers into a doll that, on its own, is prime nightmare fuel. So, the pregnant Mia is terrorized by strange happenings as John is at work. Once their baby is born the haunting gets more intense.
The story is stretched pretty thin here. It's pretty much set up, scare, repeat. So, if that is all you are looking for in your horror, then you may have a good time with Annabelle. I will admit, there are a few good jolts. And there is also some effective hair-raising imagery—like the devil creature at the bottom of a darkened stairwell! It's just too bad the filmmakers didn't take the same care with character and story that they did with setting up the scares.