Dropping any pretense of telling a “true story,” Annabelle: Creation is a film that takes the possessed doll featured in The Conjuring and creates a new fictional backstory as to how it came to be. While the Annabelle doll is a real artifact in Lorraine Warren’s Occult Museum, this film uses the idea of a possessed doll as a mere starting point to tell its own broader tale of demonology and the supernatural.
Set in 1950s Middle America the movie tells the tale of Esther and Samuel Mullins, a couple who tragically lose their young daughter, Annabelle, to an oncoming car. Twelve years later, looking to do some good in the world, they open their home to a nun with a group of orphaned girls. The girls are invited to use the home as their own, with one exception. They are forbidden from entering the room that was Annabelle’s, a room that is kept locked. After a short stay one of the girls, a slightly crippled polio survivor named Janice, begins to hear something moving around at night. She goes to investigate and discovers the forbidden room unlocked and a mysterious note inviting her to come in…
In some respects, Annabelle: Creation is almost less of a movie as it is a Halloween funhouse attraction put on screen. There is not an inordinate amount of time spent on character and plot development. Instead the film mostly cuts right to the chase, coming up with some genuinely creepy imagery and building a sustained sense of tension and dread. It’s not always successful with its timing, and some of the sequences are simply too over-the-top to truly frighten, but on the whole it’s not a bad thrill ride. Director David F. Sandberg proves his ability to create scenes of relentless suspense. Whereas most films of this type have peaks and valleys, in which the audience is given a chance to breathe before going back into the terror, this film rapidly ramps up the scares and then doesn’t let go. It’s an effective roller coaster ride, spinning its audience from one thrill to another.
On the whole I found Annabelle: Creation to be entertaining but not masterful. The horror imagery it presented was quite effective, yet when the movie was over it didn’t stick with me. I think some of the sequences showed too much and went too overboard for me to really take seriously. Whereas there are other films in this genre that have given me pause before going into a dark room at night, this one was more of a thrill-ride confined to the experience of the theater. It’s a good Halloween movie, one that teenagers should see if they’re having a holiday slumber party. As a piece of film narrative I don’t think it’s that strong, but as a Halloween thrill-ride it’s pretty decent. Be aware that there are two post-credit sequences so if you’re a fan of those then be sure to stay all the way through until all the credits have finished rolling.
In “Annabelle: Creation,” several years after the tragic death of their little girl, a dollmaker and his wife welcome a nun and several girls from a shuttered orphanage into their home, soon becoming the target of the dollmaker’s possessed creation, Annabelle.
Cast: Stephanie Sigman, Talitha Bateman, Anthony LaPaglia, Miranda Otto
Directed by: David F. Sandberg
Screenplay by: Gary Dauberman