by Sherry Lipp
The Lowdown: Though it wears its influences on its sleeve, Annabelle: Creation is a tense and scary addition to the Conjuring franchise.
Annabelle: Creation is the fourth film in the Conjuring franchise and the second to be about the creepy doll that made only a brief appearance in the first movie. Creation is a prequel to 2014’s dismal Annabelle, but smartly takes more cues from The Conjuring than it does from its predecessor. Though it relies on well-worn horror movie conventions, Annabelle: Creation is full of tension and offers enough thrills to overshadow its weaknesses.
As the title suggests, Creation tells the backstory of how the evil doll came into being. Like the Conjuring films, and unlike Annabelle, Creation is set in a time before cell phones, internet, or any real means of mass communication. Isolation is a key element in this film, as it was in the first Conjuring.
A group of orphaned girls and their caretaker, Sister Charlotte (Stephanie Sigman) move to a rural farmhouse that has been donated by a lonely couple (Anthony LaPaglia, Miranda Otto) who had lost their daughter years before. The couple and the girls live together in the large farmhouse though it’s unclear why they have decided to share their home in this way. I would think having children around would only remind them more of the daughter they lost.
It doesn’t take long before strange occurrences start to unnerve all the girls particularly Janis (Talitha Bateman) and Linda (Lulu Wilson). Janis is recovering from polio and struggles to get around due to the brace she must wear on one leg. She fears her physical weakness has made her an easy target for the sinister presence she senses in the house.
There’s a lot of predictability in Annabelle: Creation. The child’s bedroom no one is supposed to enter, but is full of clues to what’s really going on, unexplained footsteps, ghostly images, and of course a doll that seems to move around on her own. The orphans living in the isolated home is reminiscent of The Woman in Black 2 and there’s even a Jeepers Creepers-like scarecrow on hand, but Creation uses all of these familiar elements to its full advantage.
Creation is scary and that’s really that’s what we’re here for. We know about crucifixes, demons, lonely children, and restless spirits. This film isn’t trying to rewrite the rule book, it’s just trying to keep hearts racing and eyes glued to the screen and in that, it does a pretty good job. While I was hoping for a bit more of twist at the end, I still enjoyed Annabelle: Creation. It’s certainly better than the first Annabelle, though this one does cleverly ties itself to that film in a good way, but I don’t want to spoil the surprise so I won’t say anymore than that.
Annabelle: Creation Images: New Line Cinema