It has been quite impressive see The Conjuring movies spawn a universe of other horror films over the last few years (some which have yet to be released). Most notably is the story of Annabelle, a doll that has been possessed by an evil spirit. Not only did they make a whole movie dedicated to this disturbing doll back in 2014, they also recently made an origin story about it- Annabelle: Creation. I have personally always considered scary movies where children are involved to be some of the more terrifying ones, mostly because people really know how to cast some creepy-looking, yet exceptionally talented kids. Annabelle:Creation is no different.
The story takes place 12 years prior to 2014’s Annabelle movie. It is set at the home of doll maker Samuel Mullins and his wife, who decide to take in some young girls from an orphanage. Once these girls and their care taker are welcomed in to the Mullins Home, the evil presence of Annabelle surfaces and begins to target them. One of the girls, Janice (Talitha Bateman), suffers from polio and is considered to be the “weak” one, which makes her the easiest prey. She is also definitely the nosy one, because she continuously goes in to rooms and areas of the house she shouldn’t be. This is ultimately how she finds the Annabelle doll, hidden away in the room that belonged to the Mullins’s daughter, Bee (later explained to be short for Annabelle), before she died 12 years earlier. It is quickly revealed that the Mullins Family unintentionally invited an evil spirit in to their house when it was taking the form of their daughter’s ghost, pleading to inhabit the doll Mr. Mullins made for her so she can “stay with them forever”.
As the dark presence gradually takes over Janice, her best friend Linda (LuLu Wilson) begins to notice her change and expresses her concern to Mr. Mullins. By the time he pieces together what is actually happening, the evil spirit is in full force, terrorizing all the girls as well as the Mullins Family. The girls have to think fast and stick together to try and survive horrifying supernatural happenings, including being locked in a barn with sharp tools and a scarecrow that is….not a scarecrow.
This movie is very good at giving “jump scares” to the audience, but is even better at building up the suspense of what is about to happen. It took a good amount of effort for me not to want my eyes closed for nearly half of the movie, so in that sense Annabelle:Creation did a fine job at what it was intended for. There is never a moment when you see that ugly doll that you aren’t wondering if its about to turn its head and jump out of its designated rocking chair to come and steal your soul. The placement of the doll at different times throughout the film, the choice of slow-building music to amp up your adrenaline, even the sounds you hear in the background of the old house set the tone almost perfectly leading up to the middle act, where things happen basically in the blink of an eye. The pace of the movie is unique, but is done well enough to make sure the audience never loses interest. Another element that is rather impressive is how they tie this prequel in to the 2014 movie so well, having it end essentially where Annabelle picks up. (It also opens the door for the next movie to come from The Conjuring Universe, so keep an eye out for clues that link to The Conjuring 2.)
The fact that it would be difficult to live up to The Conjuring’s excellent ratings, combined with the fact that Annabelle:Creation was hatched from that new classic, means that it had two potential barriers to keep it from being successful. Yet even with that uphill battle and huge standard riding on it, this movie holds its own. All in all, Annabelle:Creation is a good scare with solid acting and an actual engaging story. Quick tip: don’t forget to watch after the credits!
Rating: 75 locked and forbidden rooms out of 100 (75%)