If cursed dolls can wield so much power over people, how come they end up spending centuries trapped in boxes? This crossed my mind while I was watching while watching Annabellum: The Curse of Salem, actor Craig Rees’ first film as writer-director. And there was plenty of time for that and many other questions to cross my mind. Because not much happened on screen to distract me.

The plot, such as it is, is excruciatingly simple. David Whittaker (Andrew James Mead) finds a box containing a doll stashed in the attic of the museum he works at. He gives it to his assistant Stephanie (Monique Todd) who apparently becomes possessed. This involves weird grins and slow speech that seem more like a drunk girl at the local bar trying to act coy than anything supernatural.

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The next day Whittacker along with his niece and nephew come by the museum. The nightwatchman Chris (Chris Millward) is nowhere to be found. Security cam footage shows something odd happening. Whittaker wisely decides to leave, but they’re locked in. Did I mention something about possession earlier?

How dull is Annabellum: The Curse of Salem? We’re forty minutes in before anything much happens, and then it’s only briefly glimpsed in the security cam footage. There are fifteen minutes of footage before that watching Chris wandering around, having a staring match with a mannequin and falling asleep at his desk. After they find themselves locked in, we get ten minutes of voice-over reading from a soldier’s journal giving the doll’s backstory. The film proper barely lasts an hour. Then there are what appears to be two tacked on scenes to get it to a saleable running time.

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This makes Doll Cemetery look like a minor classic. Hell, it even makes the recent Dolls look good. Annabellum herself isn’t even very creepy looking. She’s just a standard porcelain doll with Alice Cooper style eye makeup, who occasionally appears out of nowhere to just stand there. Really scary, eh, kids?

Annabellum: The Curse of Salem does at least live up to its name. Unfortunately, the curse is one of relentless boredom. It’s available for streaming if you don’t believe me.

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