Modern horror is not blessed with many greats. Every now and then a gem emerges but there seems to be about 100 stinkers between every one good one. Annabelle Creation falls into the middle ground. It’s not a bad movie but i doubt anyone will be talking about it in two years time, never mind ten. Fans of the Conjuring series will enjoy this and definitely more than the horrendous Annabelle (if you haven’t seen it, don’t). It is pretty much your standard horror fare but with some reasonably clever moments, though a switched on viewer will spot some of the imminent scares a mile away (especially if you are a horror fan).
Overall, Annabelle: Creation is a well-executed and thought-out medium budget horror. It is also almost a comedy at times, seeming to be self-aware enough to play on the fact that doll is not only scary but also rather ridiculous. The film seems to shift from scares to laughs and back again and it does it pretty well. A minor complaint would be the use of the effect where something happens with thundering sound and action and then a deafening silence awaiting something more, is somewhat overused, but the excellent actors make this small complaint pretty negligible.
***SPOILERS AHEAD*** I’m going to briefly cover the story but I’ll try to minimize the major spoilers.
The film opens with a toy maker, I don’t think there’s a specific time setting but it seems to be about the 60’s, assembling a doll (of course you know which doll it will be) and when he finishes the project, he labels it as a limited edition number 1 of 100. We’re introduced to the toy maker, Samuel Mullins, his wife Esther and their daughter Annabelle “Bee” over the next 5 minutes and it’s kinda sweet. Of course it’s not long-lasting. On the way back from church, they get a flat tyre and as Samuel begins to change the wheel, Esther suggests flagging down an oncoming car one of the wheel nuts flicks off and Bee goes to retrieve it from the middle of the road. Now, you don’t see the actual death but the shot lingers on the road to the side, you hear the whole thing and Bee’s own doll falls into shot, broken and mangled. It’s a heartbreaking scene and really well handled.
The movie skips to 12 years later and we’re given the shortest of introductions to a Reverend (about the last we see of him until the end of the film) who’s the head of an Orphanage. He’s driving his flock of 6 girls and one Sister to the Mullins’ house, it’s never mentioned why they need to move here but it’s stated that there’s nowhere else for them to go. Samuel greets them and informs them that the house is theirs to use, except his room and a locked room that’s upstairs (a locked room, off-limits in a horror….original), he also mentions that his wife isn’t well but we don’t see her. As the girls settle, one of them is drawn to the locked room upstairs which is magically unlocked. Inside this room she finds that it used to be Bee’s bedroom. Through magical chance, she’s guided to a locked cupboard opens it and……of course there’s Daddy’s masterpiece. Locked away in the cupboard, walls lined with scraps of paper.
Needless to say, things start to get a bit crazy and the girls start to experience a number of events with varying levels of actual terror but some of them actually deliver decent scares. Through some dialogue between the Sister and Samuel we begin to piece together what happened in the 12 years between losing Bee and taking in the Orphans. Soon a main character dies and it’s treated so lightly, it’s practically brushed under the carpet, with the girls told to just go to bed. It’s probably the biggest misstep in the whole movie.
The final act comes around and it is quite tense, with some of the scares actually hitting their mark and not just the cheap jump scares either. The work of the actors here is great, especially the lead Orphan who gives a terrifying portrayal of a girl possessed. We get the usual sequel bait ending, which actually ties into the first Annabelle fairly well.
It’s not great film but it’s not a bad one either. Fans of horror will enjoy this and particularly fans of the Conjuring franchise. Grab some popcorn, turn off the lights and enjoy.