Annabelle: Creation

anabelle-creations-rev Annabelle: Creation  (2017)    Warner Bros./Horror    RT: 109 minutes    Rated R (horror violence and terror)    Director: David F. Sandberg    Screenplay: Gary Dauberman    Music: Benjamin Wallfisch    Cinematography: Maxime Alexandre    Release date: August 11, 2017 (US)    Cast: Stephanie Sigman, Talitha Bateman, Lulu Wilson, Anthony LaPaglia, Miranda Otto, Philippa Coulthard, Grace Fulton, Lou Lou Safran, Tayler Buck, Samara Lee, Mark Bramhall.


 One of last year’s biggest surprises was Ouija: Origin of Evil, a superior sequel to an inferior horror movie. It was a retro piece that evoked fond memories of watching B-level fright flicks at weekend matinees. It was also an effective chiller that delivered some really good “BOO!” scenes. It was a far cry from its lame 2014 predecessor. It would appear the makers of Annabelle: Creation followed that example. I wasn’t a fan of the first movie (also 2014), a spin-off of The Conjuring centered on the doll seen in the Warrens’ house. I found it boring and unscary. The latest movie, also a prequel, is an improvement. It has its flaws but that creepy-ass doll makes up for any deficiencies.

anabelle creations Basically, Annabelle: Creation is an origin movie in that we learn how the Annabelle doll came to be possessed. It opens in the 40s with Bee (Lee), the only daughter of Samuel (LaPaglia, Without a Trace) and Esther Mullins (Otto, the LOTR movies), getting killed in a roadside accident. Twelve years later, they open their home to group of orphan girls and their caretaker Sister Charlotte (Sigman, Miss Bala) after their orphanage closes. One of them, Janice (Bateman, Nine Lives), wears a leg brace as a result of polio. She’s close with Linda (Wilson, Ouija: Origin of Evil); they consider themselves sisters and swear that they will be adopted either together or not at all.

 It’s Janice who first notices something isn’t right in the Mullins house. Esther never leaves her room. She’s bed-ridden as a result of some accident. When she wants something, she rings a bell. There’s a room upstairs that always stays locked. Samuel warns Janice to never go in there. Naturally, she does and that’s where she finds a certain possessed doll. Things get even weirder after that with strange unexplained noises, ghostly figures in the shadows and, ultimately, a change in personality for Janice.

 Annabelle: Creation has a lot going for it starting with good performances from a talented cast. Bateman is very good as Janice whose sweetness makes her the ideal target for evil forces. She doesn’t go all Linda Blair with profanity, pea soup and defiling crucifixes. It’s much less campy and far more sinister. Wilson is on her way to being a true Scream Queen. She has a great haunted expression. In a few years, I can see her being something of a horror movie bad ass. LaPaglia and Otto are also good as the grieving parents who inadvertently invite evil into their home.

 Director David F. Sandberg (Lights Out) makes great use of all the old horror tricks especially sound. Instead of assaulting us with sudden loud sounds, he gives us creaking chairs and floorboards, footsteps and that damn bell Esther keeps ringing. Light and darkness also play pivotal roles in keeping viewer’s hair standing on end. He knows how to play an audience and has a good time doing it. He fills Annabelle: Creation with a reasonable amount of suspense and thrills. Alas, the movie does have pacing issues (it drags at times) and runs a little longer than it needs to. For the most part, it’s an effective fright flick. It’s certainly better than recent misfires like Wish Upon, Rings and The Bye Bye Man. It tells a good scary story and ties in nicely with its predecessor. Be sure to stay through the end credits for a bonus scene that appears to promise another Conjuring spin-off movie. Annabelle: Creation is a good late summer night horror flick.

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