A fan of the Conjuring, I liked the concept of Annabelle as a standalone feature. That said I thought the first story of Annabelle was not as good as I would have hoped for, in fact it was pretty terrible. I know they say you should judge every new film by its own merits and not what has gone before; that said I was not looking forward to Annabelle Creation. In fact I was pretty much going to miss it!
But then I started to hear reports it wasn’t that bad, well maybe I’ll forget about the first attempt and see if they have managed to salvage the good or bad name of Annabelle the conduit doll.
The ‘creation’ of Annabelle is a well-constructed opening to the film, as we are introduced to the doll maker, the doll in the making and his family. We all know from the trailer the fate of his daughter and it sets up the story quite nicely. Moving swiftly on 12 years, the couple are struggling with the loss but take in a group of orphans along with a Nun to help look after them. Esther the wife (Miranda Otto) is locked away in her bedroom, while Samuel (Anthony LaPagila) runs the house. With the introduction of the orphans we are also introduced to the extremely creepy house (which is in the middle of nowhere as usual!). Of course there is a locked room, which one girl is told remains locked! Pretty sure we know the outcome of that.
Having entered the room, finding an extremely creepy doll, I’d be on the next bus out of there! But this is a-typical horror film, where no one believes her, and she keeps digging into the past only for bad things to happen to her. From this point the scares come thick and fast, but I have to say there are some really spooky little moments before all hell lets loose. It’s these subtle moments that really made the film stand out a little more for me, once the jump scares were coming thick and fast I felt I was on a haunted house ride rather than in a creepy ghost story.
I also felt it dropped the ball at its list of victims, there are a couple but I’d have preferred a couple more. One of the deaths is pretty brutal! I thought there was going to be a great scene with a scarecrow, but it never really got there; I felt this scene was going to have a good death at the end of it! I was disappointed!
The end of the film is a setup for the first Annabelle film, and works really well. Interestingly the “real” Annabelle doll is presented to the girl as she makes a new home for herself with a new couple. After just watching ET recently we noticed that the same Annabelle doll is in the closet with ET! Shared universe anyone?? Just kidding!
Director David F. Sandberg of Lights Out fame, does a decent job with the film, as I’ve said the subtle moments are the best moments and the eyes in the picture is a brilliantly creepy effect. There is also a nice little touch with another photography of a group of Nuns, I won’t spoil it, but blink and you’ll miss it!
The cast is good, Talitha Bateman (Janice) is very good and leads the girls from the orphanage she is the one who finds the doll, obviously bad things happen to her. Her best friend Lulu Wilson (Linda) is also very good. The rest just slot in nicely. Both LaPaglia and Otto are good, along with Stephanie Sigman who plays Sister Charlotte.
Overall a much better outing for Annabelle, but just loses its way when subtlety and tension give way to jump scares. It also lacks a couple more deaths!
What the hell just happened? Cast your mind back to 2014 and how much I loathed the first movie, quite possible one of the worst non-remakes I have ever had the misfortune to sit through and suffering the ultimate sin of a horror movie; that of not being scary. In the Annabelle doll there is a horror icon in the making, a franchise perhaps but most definitely a face you could show to many people and quite a few of those would be able to tell you who that was.
So to the new outing for the evil doll, based on the last movie can you guess where my excitement level was for this film? Suffice to say my only expectation being it can’t be any worse than the first movie and do you know what, I absolutely wholeheartedly got it wrong. This is a very good horror film.
This movie takes us way, way back and as the title suggests it gives you the origins of the Annabelle doll and a bit of history that the first movie nor The Conjuring ever really delved into. The story centres around bereaved parents whom after losing their daughter in a road accident open their home to a recently homeless group of children and their nun after their orphanage is closed. Not long after moving in things start to get weird and you are placed in a position where you begin to question the motives of the homes father figure whom seems a shadow of the man he once was and only seems to thrive on taking care of his bedridden wife, the mystery of which isn’t explained until nearer the end of the film.
This movie does have some creepy moments, as a seasoned horror fan there is much I’ve seen before but a few new tricks are thrown into the mix. I respect anyone who brings something new and inventive into a horror movie, even if it doesn’t work then kudos for trying. I have to give credit to the possessed stair lift and the illuminated eyes in the photograph, this really impressed me. If anything once the scares start they can be a bit non stop at times, perhaps one of the few criticisms I would have of this film. Sometimes less is more.
I was really taken back by how good this film actually is. Cut back on the scares and trim the cast down and you would have an excellent movie but that is about the only negatives I can say about this film. I was not expecting it to be as good as it was and yes anything was an improvement on the first movie but this just seems to work. I like the story and the setting, I thought there’s a few new tricks we’ve not seen before and overall it is a pretty damned good film. It gives you a nice bit of a back story and leaves me fascinated where this doll franchise goes next.
Annabelle Creation is at cinemas from the 11th August (UK)