The movie starts out really well done. The characters are interesting and the family in the beginning is a very loving family. The doll maker is a man with a talent that only stops because of the unfortunate death of his daughter. When the girls move in as the home becomes a sanctuary things start to change and the movie takes on a darker tone. Although the tone darkens it tries to scare with a lot of jump scares and slow paced frights. Nothing in the movie was original, which really was a shame since the acting was spot on and the actors did a really great job building their characters.
Now, the movie begins with the family and shortly after the loss of their daughter, then skip forward twelve years to when the house is opened as an orphanage, then it skips forward again to an adoption, then once more to twelve years later and basically near the beginning of the movie ANNABELLE. This should have been avoided as it tried much too hard to explain the origins of ANNABELLE and the possessed doll. The audience didn't really need to be told how the doll got from point A to point B, instead, another movie could have been made, or it could have been left up to imagination. As it is the movie was incredibly slow and at times it was actually dull. There could have been more time spent on the girls and what their backgrounds were, or on why they were moving from one orphanage to another, or why there was only one nun in charge of the girls. Instead the movie focused too much on the doll and her origins.
The attempts of the tone to build up the horror of the film doesn't quite work as the movie becomes underwhelming. There should have been more story and less moment sitting in the dark waiting for a monster to appear. I honestly wanted more than a dark, sinister setting and a movie that is only a build up to the original film. This didn't really add to the story of the doll, in fact it takes away from the story by trying to explain it too much.
The only thing that makes this movie tolerable is some of the acting. The child actors were all fabulous and didn't seem to fit the tropes normal for actors of their age in a horror movie (the child hiding under a bed or in a closet). The doll maker and his wife were intentionally creepy and they were well played. The nun could have used a little more development, I would have liked a little more background on her and how she came to be the one caring for the children.
Overall, this movie wasn't great, and it wasn't necessary to make. I'd say skip it, and if you've already see it I'm sorry for your wasted time.