ANNABELLE: CREATION Review: 7 out of 10 (Haunted Doll House)
ANNABELLE: CREATION is directed by David F. Sandberg (director of last year's LIGHTS OUT) and written by Gary Dauberman. It is a prequel to 2014's ANNABELLE and the fourth installment in The Conjuring film series. The film stars Stephanie Sigman, Talitha Bateman, Anthony LaPaglia and Miranda Otto in a movie that is serviceable for horror fans but certainly takes this series to some interesting places with its mythos.
For those unfamiliar with the Annabelle story, or even the greater series of films, this movie makes for a good primer since it is a prequel to all of them while aptly touching and connecting all of the films with some subtle flourishes. Working as a period piece set in the 1950s, a toymaker (LaPaglia) and his wife (Otto) live alone far out in the country in a large house. Why the house is so large can likely only be explained by the idea that custom toys in the 1940s and 50s must have gone for a hefty sum. In any case, the large and intricately (overly) complicated structure serves as a fine "haunted house" trope for the film. With the loss of their child, the couple decides to open their home to wayward orphan girls. These 6 girls include Janice (Bateman) who is a disabled girl struck with polio and Linda who is Janice's best friend. The other four girls really serve as backdrop characters (see: victims) of the rest of the movie. They are accompanied by Sister Charlotte (Sigman), a nun who is the caretaker of the girls. Soon after their arrival of the girls on the property, several spooky supernatural goings-on begins to invade the idyllic country home. And as the bumps in the night and creaks in the floor lead to horrific screams and abject terror the film starts to crank out the jump scares to the delight (and sometimes eye-rolls) of the audience.
ANNABELLE: CREATION is a movie that has many of the same problems that so many horror films do--the biggest being logic doesn't apply. Why do people stay in a house after acts of violence and death? Why do you walk *towards* the creaky sounds in the darkness? Why is there a scarecrow INSIDE a barn?!? [Sigh] ... And yet, despite the overabundance of cheap thrills and worn-out tropes, ANNABELLE: CREATION offers some interesting ideas to further stamp this film series with supernatural historicity and careful attention to its previous films. Crafted much like the Disney Marvel Universe, these movies are all woven together tightly, and this film works to set itself as a centerpiece to the movie series' mythos. In particular, the final two minutes of the movie offers an alternate reality of history that makes the future of this franchise incredibly appealing with potential. Make sure to have a partner there to grip firmly and be prepared to click your tongue when characters in a horror movie do stupid things, but ANNABELLE: CREATION still delivers some fun for fans of the genre and is rewarding to those that are following the greater series.