With a title like Anna, you’d expect this feature to be a rip off of the now iconic killer doll seen in The Conjuring and Annabelle. Maybe even something The Asylum churned out to try and capitalize on the phenomenon of the haunted doll’s success. However, while the titles and plots are somewhat similar, I can say that Anna is a fun horror-comedy that stands on its own without borrowing too much content from anyone else. Based on the screenplay by Gerald Crum, Anna follows two bros who kidnap a haunted doll from a paranormal museum in hopes of living with it for seven days – the goal being to document its strange happenings and prove the existence of ghosts. Of course, nothing goes as planned, and their obsession with the doll and the dolls obsession with them leads to hilarious twists and turns that’ll leave you entertained the whole way through.
I will say that Anna is more comedy than horror and the comedic aspects start right from the beginning, even during the opening kill sequence. Anna is just an ugly, used and abused, dirty prostitute of a doll and it’s so funny to see the opening victim cherishing her and showing her love despite her outward appearance. This has a lot of different kinds of humor to offer genre fans, but at the end of the day this can be boiled down to a good bros flick like Dude, Where’s My Car?.The two leads, played by Justin Alexander Duncan and Gerald Crum, bounce off each other with real chemistry as they bicker, argue, crack jokes and dig themselves into a deeper and deeper hole. They’re complete opposites in every sense of the term and they’re absolutely hilarious. I can picture a group of high school and/or college aged guys renting this film on RedBox or VOD and cracking up while enjoying a couple of cold beers. If the intention was to make an adventure flick with dry humor and some horrific elements, then that mission was definitely accomplished.
Now, Anna is the second feature from director Michael Crum and producer Joshua Winch with Rick Crum now on board as executive producer. MGI Productions’ first feature was a 2014 flick titled Lake Fear, but they have done a number of shorts, too – including Demonic Pizza, which someone seriously needs to send me next. So, I’m going to be somewhat critical of the production errors in Anna because I feel like they should no better by now. First, the camera quality changes from crystal clear to slightly hazy and out of focus at random throughout the entire movie. And second, there was half a dozen times when Michael Crum should have stepped up as director and said, “let’s do another take,” because the takes that were used in the final edit were not good. They basically showcase errors that were glossed over. Still, Anna has a funky script, perfect audio, great gore effects from Gerald Crum, good acting and a special hook. Don’t take my criticisms of production value as word that this film is a terrible product.
Anna has a lot of things going for it. It features a creepy, haunted doll, which is a current craze. It’s got a higher body count than I expected for a movie like this. It’s got some nudity in it. And it has that independent quality to it that fans are going to love. It’s such a privilege to write for HorrorSociety.com because I have the pleasure of discovering up-and-coming talent like the gang at MGI Productions. Reading over their production notes, I can see that principal photography was plagued by disasters – almost as if the prop doll really had become possessed by a demonic force. Custom built sets were flooded, temperatures dropped below freezing, and cast members suffered illness and broken bones. But, this is what makes Anna such a success story. Through all of that, the cast and crew managed to pull off an enjoyable horror-comedy flick that’s worthy of a distribution deal through ITN. Justin Alexander Duncan, Gerald Crum, Alan Gunter, Brian Finn, Kristin Cochell with Shanon Snedden, Rebekah Lynn Bruflodt, Bonnie C. Garcia and Arianne Martin star in one of the best indie horror-comedies of 2017… and that says something. Final Score: 6.5 out of 10.