The annals of horror are filled with classics that came from outside the big budgets and gloss of Hollywood from Night Of The Living Dead to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Still, for all of these low-fi classics, there are going to be a few duds. Case in point, Anna; a film about two aspiring documentarians who steal a seemingly possessed doll unaware of what they’re about to unleash.
Anna was produced on a budget of $30,000 and boy do you feel it. Oftentimes, low-budget horror comes with something of an added bonus; the grit and imperfections giving a certain rawness to proceedings. Anna is not that kind of movie. Amateur in the true sense of the word, the production quality is absolutely bare bones with this film. Special effects are a minimum the cinematography seems nonexistent (there certainly isn’t a credit given to one) and the film’s lack of gloss means, especially early on, it’s clear there’s very little post-production on the sound, giving the vocal performances an inconsistent quality and on the rare occasions where there are overdubs, they look particularly stilted. There are even glaring continuity errors and completely flubbed takes that somehow made it into the final film.
Anna isn’t so much a straightforward horror film, more of a horror comedy. You could make the argument that the film is a parody of the Conjuring/Annabelle series set around a similarly possessed doll. However, this element is so delicately tagged on it feels more like a lack of an original idea than a parody whilst the comedy is somewhat lacking. It goes for a subtler approach than you might expect, working more off of dialogue and awkward silences but the exchanges are rambling and shambolic and whilst the silences are awkward, they’re just not funny.
The film runs to a little over ninety-minutes. A fairly short length for a feature film, about the average for a horror film but somewhat long for Anna. In part because of the film’s flaws with dialogue but compounded by editing and languorous pacing. In a way, Anna seems to also share a bit of an influence from the Evil Dead films, which handled the combination of horror and humour perfectly (Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn especially) but a part of that is the sheer energy and quick pacing. Perhaps in future, if the filmmakers could take more of a lesson from that, things could improve.
I think it’s clear by this point that I’m not a fan of Anna. I can live with low production values in my horror movies (check out Colin for an example of an ultra low-budget horror with some interesting ideas that cost all of £30) but the lack of even standard techniques in filmmaking is pretty off-putting in a film fairly devoid of redeeming qualities. Safe to say it’s not the greatest film I’ve ever seen.
Anna is available on digital download from Monday, December 11th; rated 15. Check out the trailer below.