Annabelle: Creation Is A Spooky And Satisfying Origin Story
The fact that dolls are inherently creepy—brought to the attention of horror-loving moviegoers years ago in Child’s Play—is fairly well-known at this point. Nonetheless, the newly released Annabelle: Creation is an entertaining addition to the Conjuring cinematic universe that’s worth watching, especially if you need to be reminded that no doll (no matter how cute) is truly innocent.
Annabelle: Creation is a prequel to 2014’s Annabelle and tells the story of how the titular demonic doll was brought to life. Anthony LaPaglia and The Lord of the Rings’ Miranda Otto play Samuel and Esther Mullins, a dollmaker and his wife who tragically lose their young daughter in a car crash. 12 years later, a gruff, jaded Sam agrees to let a nun, Sister Charlotte (Stephanie Sigman), and a group of orphans stay in his and Esther’s home.
Janice, played by the talented Talitha Bateman, lives with polio and often finds herself ignored and left behind by her fellow orphans—even her best friend Linda, who finds it more and more difficult to stick by Janice’s side as the movie goes on. Left to her own devices, Janice eventually discovers the possessed Annabelle and subsequently faces the consequences of that discovery.
Focusing on a group of orphans rather than a family or a married couple was a smart decision on the part of the writers. Unlike characters from films like Paranormal Activity (who probably should have moved out at the first sign of trouble), Sister Charlotte and her charges don’t really have anywhere else to go. The result? You don’t question why Charlotte and Co. don’t just pack up and leave the Mullins residence nearly as often as you normally might.
But while Annabelle: Creation doesn’t fall victim to the “recently married couple refuses to leave their clearly haunted house” trope, it does succumb to a few other oft-used horror movie clichés—the forbidden slash permanently locked room and the car that won’t start, just to name a few.
Creation’s use of clichés (and occasional plot holes) is easy to forgive, especially when you consider its somewhat subtle, clever allusions to the other films in the so-called “Conjuring cinematic universe.” For example, Sister Charlotte shows Sam a photo that connects to the “demonic nun” figure introduced in 2016’s The Conjuring 2. Plus, keen viewers will probably realize that Creation’s ending directly leads in to the start of the first Annabelle film and ties all four Conjuring universe films together.
Let’s get to the important part: is Annabelle: Creation actually scary? Yes and no. Creation’s editors skillfully use music, sound effects, and even camera movement to heighten the tension during particularly frightening moments and get you ready for those inevitable jump scares.
But apart from the jump scares, Creation comes off as more startling than scary. Talk of possessions and demons helps move the plot along but doesn’t unsettle as much as you think it might, and the threat of scares (e.g. a demonic figure moving in the background) is usually more frightening than the scares themselves (e.g. finally seeing the demonic figure up close).
What does help amp up Creation’s scariness factor is its willingness to play with audience expectations. One of the movie’s most chilling scenes starts off in the middle of a bright and sunny afternoon even though audiences have been led to assume that Annabelle only comes out to play at night.
If you’re willing to come face to face with a demonic doll (plus two sentient puppets and a haunted scarecrow), Annabelle: Creation is definitely worth checking out—especially if you want to prepare yourself for the next couple Conjuring sequels and prequels coming out in the next few years.
Annabelle: Creation haunts theatres today. Check out InnerSpace‘s coverage of the film below: