Annabelle: Creation Movie Review
Girls are stupid. At least that’s the idea in the new horror thriller Annabelle: Creation, a prequel to a prequel that improves upon its predecessor (the first prequel) but doesn’t quite capture the terror of either Conjuring movie. In this latest scarefest, a bunch of orphans find themselves stuck in a house with that creepy no-one-would-ever-by-this Annabelle doll and proceed to do things like enter dark rooms unattended, remain silent when they should be screaming for help, and other dumb things that will have you simultaneously shouting at the screen in frustration and giggling at the effective jump scares director David F. Sandberg throws at you with macabre glee.
Annabelle: Creation takes us back to a remote 1950s farmhouse where we meet the dude who made the doll and discover the events that set into motion it becoming ensnared by a demon. The rest that follows is pretty traditional haunted house fare. It never tries to do anything unique or groundbreaking but executes well on a tried-and-true formula.
The movie is scary, though not as relentlessly scary as The Conjuring movies from which this one was born. Sandberg relies more on jump scares than the breathless, drawn out anticipatory terror that the aforementioned films do so well; nonetheless, this new Annabelle looks great and is effective in making you squirm in your seat (or in my friend’s case, stress-eating popcorn and talking back to the screen).
The movie boasts a solid cast, with Anthony LaPaglia, Miranda Otto and Stephanie Sigman rounding out the adults and Lulu Wilson and Talitha Bateman playing the two lead characters, both children. Innocent-looking Wilson, as the de facto protagonist, was last seen playing an absolutely terrifying girl in the superior Ouija 2: Origin of Evil (if you’re reading this review and haven’t seen that movie, stop what you’re doing and check it out now), and while she isn’t nearly as memorable here, she holds her own. Bateman also delivers a fine performance, though isn’t given as much to do as you’d expect given how the film plays her up.
Annabelle’s only notable weakness is that once you figure out (spoiler) that Sandberg and crew are hesitant to kill off kids, the stakes become dulled. Despite its R rating, the movie holds back on several opportunities; a scarecrow scene is especially wasted.
Still, Annabelle: Creation is a frightfully fun experience that is easy to enjoy--or hate--depending on your proclivity for jumping out of your seat. And it’s all thanks to a bunch of girls who decide to explore dark, creepy corners instead of running out the front door and never looking back.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.