Hot Take: Formulaic horror sequel with a longer fuse than most. Sometimes the slow burn is good. Sometimes it’s a waste of time. Annabelle: Creation is the waste of time.
As mentioned in the It review, horror is not my genre of choice. Sequels aren’t really my thing, either. They are a necessary evil in the world of cinema and a staple of the current box office. Annabelle: Creation checks both the horror and sequel (well, prequel) box as David Sandberg (Lights Out) brings the prequel of a prequel (Annabelle was a prequel of The Conjuring) to life in an effort to capitalize on the inexplicable box office success of the first film — the original pulled in $256 million on a $6.5 million budget. For this reviewer, Annabelle: Creation felt like your standard horror flick with a few extra helpings of jump scares and extended stares into darkness waiting for something to happen. Something usually happened but it became more and more predictable as the film progressed.
In Annabelle: Creation, Samuel (Anthony LaPaglia) and Esther (Miranda Otto) Mullins are devastated when their 7-year-old daughter Annabelle (Samara Lee) is run over by a car and killed in 1943. 12 years later, the Mullins decide to take in 6 girls from a closed orphanage. Samuel is distant and, for lack of a better word, a grump and Esther is bedridden due to an accident that occurred. One of the girls, Janice (Tabitha Bateman), sees and hears things the other girls don’t. Crippled by polio, she struggles to move around the house but she’s continuously drawn to a room with a locked door that happens to be Annabelle’s old room. In the room, she unlocks a closet that contains the creepy doll that contains the spirit of an evil demon. Janice is terrorized by the doll and the appearance of the Mullins’ daughter. Eventually, after multiple attacks, the demon possesses Janice who then begins to terrorize the rest of the house.
While the story is concise, the plot development is not nearly that smooth. Annabelle: Creation takes a long time to get where it wants to go. Plus, it’s a very standard pass at horror with a forgettable cast that feels very much like the rest of this subset of the horror genre characterized by The Conjuring films and others like Insidious and Sinister. What you realize by the end of the film is that there really wasn’t a lot there when it comes to a prequel. The doll is creepy. The house’s inhabitants are frightened but never actually run. When they finally decide to run, nothing they use to get away works. It’s all very formulaic.
Eventually, the prequel ties the timelines together with a scene that ties to the original Annabelle. It lives little to the imagination around anything that might have happened in the years between so it’s unlikely we’re in store for a third Annabelle film unless they Chucky-fy the doll. Don’t worry, though, there’s hint of another spin-off in the post credits. You don’t think Hollywood is done milking this cash cow yet, do you?
I can’t say I was disappointed in Annabelle: Creation because it was essentially what I expected to see. I do admit that Sandberg’s previous works was one of the few horror films from 2016 that I liked. In a similar fashion, he used a slower burn than most horror films in both movies. For some reason, his style of pacing worked a little better in Lights Out although it could be the fact that I was more into the overall plot in Lights Out. If you’re a fan of the original, it’s not a terrible follow-up but it’s just more of the same. Unfortunately, I’m not the target audience and Annabelle: Creation didn’t do anything to win me over.
“Spoiler Free” Pros
- Lulu Wilson: Horror Movie Staple?
Young Lulu Wilson picked up her 3rd role in a horror film with Annabelle: Creation. Previously, the 11-year-old also had a very small part in Deliver Us From Evil and a much bigger role in Ouija: Origin of Evil. In Annabelle: Creation, she plays Linda, Janice’s best friend amongst the orphaned girls and the first to notice that something is “wrong” with Janice.
“Spoiler Free” Cons
- Staging Another Spin-Off
“Who’s that in the picture, Sister Charlotte?” There’s a shadowy nun-like figure in one of the pictures Sister Charlotte has in her room. Cue the post-credits scene where the demon nun Valak who appears in The Conjuring 2 is wandering the halls of Carta Monastery in Romania. But don’t think they are just trying to connect Annabelle back to The Conjuring one last time. Expected Summer 2018 is The Nun will hit theaters and milk another scare-thirsty horror audience of their hard earned cash.
- At What Point Do We Stop Investigating Strange Sounds?
When does that ever go well?