Quick Hit: Effectively scary, but ultimately empty film that continues the strong showing from the Conjuring universe.
When Annabelle made her first appearance in 2013’s The Conjuring, she served no purpose besides to be a creepy prop. Now that we are onto our fourth movie in the series, with Annabelle: Creation, the doll has gotten two movies all to herself. The first was an ineffective movie filled only with jump scares and poor dialogue. While the poor dialogue has continued, Annabelle: Creation, a prequel in the series, serves to buoy the franchise back to the heights that James Wan originated.
We open with a creepy bit of filming that includes the actual creation of Annabelle. After the death of his daughter, we transport years into the future, and the home of Annabelle is being used as a make-shift orphanage for girls with no home. It’s a lame excuse to get people together, but it does its job, and before long the girls are exploring (as you do in horror films) rooms that are locked. This leads to the release of Annabelle, to disastrous effect.
Annabelle Creation is rated R, and the few deaths in the film scream of some heavy gore effects that show that director David F. Sandberg (of Lights Out) wasn’t going to pull his punches just for a PG-13 rating. That actually pays off towards the end of the film, because you actually worry that characters can get seriously hurt. But the gore isn’t what truly makes this an effective horror film. Instead, the film relies on some of the same tricks that Sandberg did in his Lights Out film – tricks of shadows and light.
Whereas that film had an even more bare bones script, Annabelle Creation fleshes out the story of the doll a bit more. It’s a bit inconsistent with the powers of what the doll can do – it seems she (and the spirit that possesses her) are both invulnerable and all powerful. It’s a bit hard to figure out what the horror movie “rules” are here, but that doesn’t detract from a simple fact: this movie is often very scary. Recently it seems that Hollywood remembered that when bad things happen to children, it’s a really scary thing – so when we see a girl be attacked by a demon in the middle of the night, it’s something that sticks with you a bit longer than a homicidal maniac hunting teens engaged in less than moral acts.
The atmosphere in the film is also a point worth making. Set out in the country and in the 50s, the movie rarely gives more characters for you to focus on. Instead it focuses on the young relationships that form between girls that must live and grow up together. The setting inside an older country house (something that has been done to death in horror films) feels newer here and a bit fresher. The addition of a slow tension building wheelchair lift is an excellent idea, and the crawl spaces and lift scenes give me chills just remembering.
As I stated previously, the script is lazy, and frequently will have you asking “Why would a person do that?” “Who could be that stupid?” and “I wonder if they could do a Husk/Annabelle crossover”. But the excellent direction by Sandberg brings this well into the realm of watchability, and I’m going to give it a “B”.
For more on this movie check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"