Annabelle: Creation opens everywhere August 11th, 2017.
For the second consecutive year, the horror genre has provided us with the biggest pleasant surprise of the year. 2016 brought us the prequel to Ouija and while most eyes rolled at the concept of another entry into that franchise, Oujia: Origin of Evil is quite frankly one of 2016’s best horror films. Fast forward to this year and the eye rolling was in full effect when news that a prequel to the 2014 prequel of The Conjuring, Annabelle was on its way. However, just like in 2016, Annabelle: Creation has not only surprised many but is one of my favorite films of 2017.
Annabelle: Creation takes place at least a decade before the events of Annabelle. The film opens with doll-maker Samuel Mullins who is constructing what will eventually become the Annabelle doll (a limited edition 1 out of 100). Samuel lives the normal everyday life with his wife and daughter simply nicknamed “Bee.” Their lives take a tragic turn after an accident changes their lives forever. After 12 years, they decide to invite a group of orphans who have been displaced to live with them, hoping to bring a sense of life to their once happy home. Despite the good intentions, once one of the orphans, Janice, finds the aforementioned doll, things take a turn for the worse.
From the start, director David F. Sandberg (Lights Out) incorporates the doll in a much more effective way than the 2014 film. From the first moment of its creation to the very end, the Annabelle doll plays a crucial part in the film and functions beautifully as a plot device.
Just like the film, Sandberg outdoes himself in comparisons to 2016’s Lights Out. While Lights Out is well made, Annabelle: Creation is simply chilling at times. Throughout the film, there were innovative, inspirational scares, that at times brought real life chills. Sandberg is able to tap into something every member of the audience will understand: childhood fears. We all had moments as children that we can speak about to this day as frightening. In Annabelle: Creation, that same fear haunts the girls.
Speaking of girls, the ensemble of females work quite well in the film. Lead by Talitha Bateman and Lulu Wilson, who especially is the key to these successful prequels as she also starred in Ouija: Origin of Evil, both deliver fantastic and at times haunting performances. The girls’ chemistry together is what I loved most about their performances, as they have scenes within the film that capture that chemistry well. As with most genres, the horror genre requires the audience to be able to root for its protagonist and thanks to their performances, rooting for these girls wasn’t too hard.
With any good horror film, the production design is key. Annabelle: Creation’s production design, along with its cinematography creates a world we can invest and that assists in its scares throughout the film.
One of the head scratching moments in the trailer to the film and promotional materials was the tag line, “the next installment in The Conjuring universe,” as this film is so far in the past had me perplexed as to how it connects to The Conjuring outside of the doll. Fear not, without spoiling much, there are nods to some of the previous films that work effectively and did not hurt the pacing of the film.
While Annabelle: Creation is not on the level of James Wan’s The Conjuring, the film is still able to stand on its own as a chilling film that not only cements David F. Sandberg as one of horror’s best directors today but is able to progress The Conjuring universe in a way that makes its audience anticipate one more entry with our favorite doll.
Reel Talk gives Annabelle: Creation 3.5 Reels