Directed by: David F. Sandberg
Written by: Gary Dauberman
Starring: Stephanie Sigman, Talitha Bateman, Anthony LaPaglia, Miranda Otto
Coming hot off the heels of the putrid first film, Annabelle, expectations were fairly low for the follow-up that would feature as a prequel to the prequel of The Conjuring. Fortunately, enlisting the help of a very good horror director amounted to a much better experience and did what the first one needed to do, which is actually being scary. I applaud the effort because Annabelle: Creation seeks to thrill and executes it very well.
Years after their daughter dies, the Mullins family opens up their home for a nun and a group of girls that have lost their orphanage. With the new home comes some rules like not entering specific rooms. Being that this film lands in the horror genre, that rule gets broken fairly quickly and once one of the girls enters one of the prohibited rooms, a door opens up to find the dreaded Annabelle doll, which soon wreaks havoc on everyone in the house.
Sometimes going in with basement-level expectations pays off because I had so much fun watching Annabelle: Creation. While the first film failed to create any characters worth really connecting to, they nailed it by bringing in some orphans to be the target of the demon that takes control of this cursed doll. The impact does not come simply from us following orphan girls, but because of the way the skills hover around what scares them and what scares us as children can still have the same impact when we reach adulthood. Additionally, the plot is very high-concept. It’s orphan girls along with some adults trapped in a secluded farm being hunted by a soul-seeking demon.
Annabelle: Creation succeeds because it becomes an unrelenting scary experience. Many horror films do the same formula of trying to scare the audience. All of it happens at night and the jump scare formula comes out with the scary music and the loud jolt. Once that ends, the next day begins and it’s nice and sunny outside, so we know we’re safe for a bit. This film takes away any safety you thought would happen with the progression of the story. The scare sequences never truly ceased and just when you thought you could take a breath as an audience member, another scare sequence begins. It kept me on my toes for the entirety of the film. I had never experienced a horror experience like what this film provided and I’m grateful for it.
I would still not classify the film as a great one because it suffers from the same nonsensical logic of the first film with relating it to the Catholic faith. The biggest blunder, however, comes from the power of the doll and what limitations it had. I won’t go into too much detail, but the film seems to try and inform the audience what has kept the doll dormant for years until the orphans arrived, but that quickly breaks down when trying to piece together what causes the events of this story. It almost needed this reasoning to produce the climax but it does not fully come together.
Even with that issue, the film zips by and does what it sought to accomplish in creating a horror bonanza for all to enjoy. It did not get wrapped up in the mythology of the doll and the demon that possessed it in order to grab a soul. It simply set up a premise and finely executed the scare sequences all the way to a satisfying conclusion. That’s all they had to do and they did it well. Annabelle: Creation did not attempt to be The Exorcist in its storytelling, it knew what it was and ended up being a horror film you can enjoy with a group of people to add to the fun.