Annabelle: Creation Revitalizes A Familiar Character With Build and Technique

Anabelle
7.8 Overall Score

For many years now, we have seen the makings of grandiose movie universes dealing with super heroes. How about something for the horror fans? Could it work to have different tent-poles born within a successful horror franchise? In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, director James Wan expressed his excitement for what will be considered The Conjuring universe. Both Conjuring movies, released in 2013 and 2016 paid homage to the 80’s style of horror films with reliance on practical effects while telling a well thought out story.

The 2014 spin-off, Annabelle was met with mixed reviews. Coming off the momentum of the first Conjuring movie, it seems like the spin-off was just the lighter version. However, there was still a story to be told. Like the tales of Child’s Play and even Wan’s own 2007’s movie, Dead Silence, there’s still a malevolence to the creepy doll genre of horror. Not to be confused with the first spin-off, Annabelle: Creation takes place before the first Annabelle movie in the mid 1950’s. The look of the film is very rustic and indicative of that time period. A group of orphans and a nun named Sister Charlotte (Stephanie Sigman) are welcomed into the home of the Mullins family who had experienced the tragic death of their daughter, Annabelle, 12 years prior. Director David F. Sandberg (Lights Out) is not only able to draw on the classic scares that makes the prequel feel familiar, he also is able to interject a bit of heart into it as well.

The beauty in where Annabelle:Creation succeeds is how it builds on fears that the audience is already familiar with. Have you ever heard something inside your house and have to investigate a dark hallway? Do you remember the shortness of breath and the feeling of dread when you do? Your mind plays tricks on you – infusing every fathomable possibility of what it could be. Sanberg’s 2016 hit, Lights Out played this theme up nicely and makes it fit within the Conjuring universe. While the Annabelle doll itself is inanimate, there are certain camera angles that are used to give it a sinister personality. The most jarring situations are where lack of light and heightening of composer Benjamin Wallfisch‘s score just at the right time leads to those hair standing moments. However, some of the scares don’t come when you expect them – leading to some unpredictability. It’s the little nuances that make this movie what it is where slow burns are the key instead of outright scares. If you’ve seen a Conjuring movie, you’ll be familiar with this style.

With the main story line, Sandberg is able to bridge the notions love and family into a dark, horror tale. Much with Lights Out, you have a family who has experienced lost and will do anything to fill that void – desperation is deadly. Samuel and Esther Mullins (Anthony LaPaglia, Miranda Otto ) is another cautionary example of doing the wrong thing to do to combat grief. In their broken sadness, the parents take a secondary role through the bulk of the story. Also, within it’s minimalism, Creation is able to shine a light on the great acting of the lead characters. Janice (Talitha Bateman) and Linda (Lulu Wilson) have a sisterhood bond and you see how that evolves throughout the hauntings and changes in Janice’s character. Wilson’s strong showing in last year’s prequel, Ouija: Origin of Evil helps her interact on the other side of the coin in this movie. In the bigger sense of things, traumatic experiences bring the group of girls closer together in the end.

You could compare it to how 2014’s X-Men: Days of Future Past sought to rewrite the history forged by 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand. Sandberg is able to make a story we know into his own. Where there may have been missed opportunities in the first Annabelle, Creation learns from those mistakes in crafting an interesting story that makes you want to see more of the Conjuring universe. Annabelle’s story is a long and rather tragic turn of events. The movie utilizes it’s R rating, not to go over the top, but as a crafty way to combine the screams and (somewhat) bloody affair.

Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

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Author: Murjani Rawls View all posts by
Writer | Photographer | Beast

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