Movie Review: Annabelle: Creation

A prequel to Annabelle is a bit predictable but still dishes up some frights

Annabelle: Creation (Annabelle 2: Zrození zla)
Directed by David F. Sandberg
With Stephanie Sigman, Talitha Bateman, Anthony LaPaglia, Miranda Otto

The American horror film Annabelle: Creation explains its origins of the possessed Annabelle doll, which was has the subject of an eponymous film in 2014.

Annabelle: Creation is the fourth film in commercially successful Conjuring horror film series, which so far includes The Conjuring (2013), Annabelle (2014) and The Conjuring 2 (2016). Three more films are planned so far.

All of the films deal with demonic possession, and are loosely categorized as true stories. In the original Annabelle, a text claims that the possessed doll in the film really exists and is in a museum.

The original Annabelle film scared a lot of people, and introduced the viewers to the very creepy looking porcelain-headed doll.

Annabelle: Creation takes us back to the actual beginning, with the doll's maker, Samuel Mullins, (played by Anthony LaPaglia) finishing the doll for his daughter, Annabelle (Samara Lee),who is called by the nickname Bee.

It begins with with scenes of happy family life, but this is not to last, as this is a horror film. A tragedy quickly occurs. The film then skips 12 years into the future.

Things start to get a bit off. An itinerant orphanage consisting of six girls and a nun moves into the doll maker's extremely large house where he lives with his now-bedridden wife, Esther Mullins (Miranda Otto).

Samuel warns the orphans that one room must never be opened or entered. Of course, this is ignored. One of the girls, Janice (Talitha Bateman), finds the Annabelle doll, which seems to move around on its own and is usually in the shadows. The residents begin to experience paranormal activities, but try to pretend everything is normal.

Janice, in a leg brace due to polio, becomes the focus of the evil doll's attention. Her disability makes here easy prey for the evil doll, but some viewers may find this to be a cheap trick.

The way little girls play in the film is surprisingly good, and the child actresses seem to be very talented in showing varying degrees of fear. Viewers who want to play along will quickly get embraced by the atmosphere of horror. The camera work and direction are competent, exploring different angles and techniques to immerse the audience deeply into the manufactured terror.

Putting little girls, and old scary doll and a house in the middle of nowhere is an old technique used in a lot of horror movies. And while the formula is not original, it still works. Slamming doors, disembodied footsteps, moving shadows, strange clues and even a scarecrow are thrown into the mix of horror tricks that await the viewer.

There are some elements borrowed from other films, The Ring series in particular, that don't work as well as they might. These just serve to point out the film is a bit derivative.

The movie may also be too predictable in some moments, and the first 40 minutes are a bit overextended. But the story builds in tension as it goes on, and by the end something is constantly happening with all of the cast members being terrorized at different locations in the vast house and surrounding area, accompanied by creepy music.

The purpose of the horror movie is to scare the audience, and overall, Annabelle: Creation reaches its goal. However, there is probably nothing that will keep you awake at night after watching the movie.

Want to spend two hours face-to-face with the creepy vintage doll? Willing to get the experience of fear? Annabelle is back, and hopes you have not forgotten her.

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