by Nile Fortner
‘Annabelle’ is a Bad Bitch, Y’all!
James Wan (Furious 7, The Conjuring) is taking a backseat on this as director David F. Sandberg (Lights Out) and writer Gary Dauberman (2014s Annabelle, 2017s IT) in this horror film, a horror film trying to establish the Conjuring universe.
Now I wasn’t a fan of the last Annabelle movie. I’ve told friends and family that Annabelle is the laziest horror movie villain I’ve ever seen. In the last film, all Annabelle did was sit on her flat wooden butt. The doll didn’t do anything except sit in a rocking chair, too lazy to even rock back and forth, and the evil doll just stares at you. You’re eating oatmeal for breakfast one day, you put the brown sugar on the table, the doll is across the room, and the next thing you know the brown sugar is not on the table. “Well damn, it must have been the doll! It’s (dramatic pause) evil!”
The last Annabelle movie was an origin story for the same Annabelle doll from the first Conjuring film. Now audiences have ‘Annabelle: Creation’, a film that is actually an origin story to the origin story. This new film, tries to show and tell us that there is more to this lazy villainous doll that we didn’t get to see in the first movie. Annabelle and her family, have a very long history. History that is filled with death, desperation, sadness, and a history that will lead our story, characters, and audiences into horror.
The official synopsis for this movie according to Rotten Tomatoes is, “former toy maker Sam Mullins and his wife, Esther, are happy to welcome a nun and six orphaned girls into their California farmhouse. Years earlier, the couple’s 7-year-old daughter Annabelle died in a tragic car accident. Terror soon strikes when one child sneaks into a forbidden room and finds a seemingly innocent doll that appears to have a life of its own.” Annabelle died many years ago, and her parents are very desperate to see her again, so desperate that they even look towards demons for help. At first, Annabelle’s spirit starts out friendly, but the demonic spirits change her, and put her spiritual life form into a doll.
Now this movie is a period piece, I believe it takes place around the early 40s. From the establishing shot, you can automatically tell how well the set designers did. Everything from the lighting, props, wardrobe, even camera angles are similar to movies from that time period. It was really neat to see how much effort they put in to the set to really achieve this old look. They have this look, yet they do a good job of keeping it an eerie atmosphere throughout.
Speaking of the atmosphere, this movie plays out more like a haunted house than an actual horror movie. By this I mean, it’s generic jump scares, and it’s more about the jump scares than story and establishing our characters. It’s not much on story, it is a series of scary events, and to me that is not too good. Even horror movies can have well written characters and a great story.
There hints throughout the movie of future movies to come that are from ‘The Conjuring’ movies. They even have a little hint of what’s to come next in this conjuring universe at the very end of the credits. However, I believe it is nothing worth staying to the very end for, because it is something already referenced earlier on in the movie.
We have a character in the film named Janice, who happens to have polio. Annabelle wants Janice because Annabelle wants to have a human host. The movie showed us how it’s not just Annabelle we have to be worried about, but also Janice’s condition that is just as equally terrifying. At times, I found myself afraid of Janice’s condition over Annabelle, which I think the movie could have played up more of Janice’s condition as a threat, because that is something new for a horror flick. That was a new and interesting concept, and this movie isn’t adding anything all that new or interesting to the horror genre. It just takes what everyone else knows in horror films, and plays off of it. The dark corners, the generic ghost disappears as soon as the light goes on, a door needing WD-40 because it keeps creaking open, among other clichés.
This is nitpicking, but in my opinion, the setup is way too predictable for a horror movie. You have Annabelle’s parents who live in the middle of the dessert, in a big house meant for five, with a husband who makes creepy dolls in the back of a dark barn, with a spirit living in the house for 12 years leaving notes that read, “I want to play, daddy”. You also brought a nun and a group of young orphaned girls here. You are practically telling every demon, ghost, and ghoul that you are opened for business.
Now earlier on, I mentioned how in the last movie, Annabelle did not do enough action. However, in this one, Annabelle does so much more, and at parts, she really shocked my socks with fear. Yes, the doll still sits, but it’s interesting how when the doll is just sitting there, it’s your own mind that is scaring you. By this I mean, when the doll sits in the dark, it’s you asking yourself, “What’s the doll going to do next?” It’s a great balance of letting the audience scare themselves, while the filmmakers still give you action and suspense.
I like how this movie explains more on back-story, it does have good pace, I love how it’s in a period piece and how they mixed the old with the new. It’s miles ahead of the last Annabelle movie, and I am interested in where this conjuring multi film universe is heading. I don’t think it is as hair raising as many are making it out to be. The young actresses do feel like real kids and teens but feel underwritten, I think the movie had the opportunity to explore new ground, and could have not had all the horror clichés we’ve already seen. This is the type of film you find yourself watching because there isn’t much else. I don’t hate the movie, but I certainly do not love it. I love horror movies, unfortunately this film is a horror I do not love. I believe ‘Annabelle: Creation’ earns…
2.5 out of 5 Hairpieces