Friday, August 11, 2017

Annabelle: Creation review

By Nico Beland
Movie Review: *** out of 4
Annabelle the doll is back to reign more terror in Annabelle: Creation

            A prequel to a prequel to The Conjuring…and somehow it worked! If there was one movie I was more concerned about than The Conjuring 2 last year it would be Annabelle: Creation, a prequel to the 2014 film, Annabelle which was a prequel to James Wan’s critical and commercial horror hit, The Conjuring.
            The first Annabelle while financially successful was a critical disappointment and a lousy way to follow-up The Conjuring. The film had its moments of creative scares but most of them came off as predictable and lacked the suspense and effective sound and production design of the first movie, it was pretty much a horror movie cash-grab and nothing more.
            And now we have Annabelle: Creation, a prequel to the prequel and after a strike with the first movie this is the unexpected homerun much like what Ouija: Origin of Evil was like for Ouija. The film is directed by David F. Sandberg (Lights Out) who gave us last year’s horror hit, Lights Out, and produced by The Conjuring director, James Wan (Saw, The Conjuring 1 and 2, Furious 7) who knock it out of the park with a horror movie prequel that probably shouldn’t have been that good to begin with.
            The film follows a couple who are grieving over the death of their daughter after a tragic car accident taking in girls from a local orphanage. But when a disabled girl named Janice (Talitha Bateman-The 5th Wave, So B. It, Geostorm) goes into the room of the couple’s deceased daughter one night, she unintentionally sets free the demented doll named Annabelle and the demon inside the doll possesses her.
            And then all the frights you’d expect occur from objects flying around, flickering lights, loud noises, and sudden jump scares. In hopes of getting Janice back her best friend, Linda (Lulu Wilson-The Millers, Inside Amy Schumer, Ouija: Origin of Evil) and a nun and the caretaker for the girls named Sister Charlotte (Stephanie Sigman-The Bridge, Narcos, Spectre) must go through religious practices and disposing of the doll to compel the demon back to where it came from.
            The film also stars Anthony LaPaglia (Lantana, Without a Trace, Balibo) as Samuel Mullins, Miranda Otto (The Lord of the Rings 2 and 3, Flight of the Phoenix, War of the Worlds (2005)) as Esther Mullins, Philippa Coulthard (K-9, After the Dark, Secrets and Lies) as Nancy, Grace Fulton (JAG, Ghost Whisperer, Revenge) as Carol, Adam Bartley (Longmire, NCIS: Los Angeles, This is Us) as Officer Fuller, and Brian Howe (Déjà vu, The Pursuit of Happyness, Gran Torino) as Pete Higgins.
            Overall, Annabelle: Creation literally fixes the “Sins” of the past and delivers an effective horror movie about a creepy doll and the terror it brings. A genre of horror that’s been pretty much dead due to the awful Chucky sequels, but thanks to a director and producer that know how to make a scary movie, some impressive production design, and some eerie sound design they made a good prequel to a bad prequel to a great horror movie.
            The movie doesn’t rely on gore that much and whenever it’s used they never make it flashy or exploit it like mad. No, every use of gore in this movie feels natural and adds more to the terror and suspense of the current circumstance.
            That’s one of the things I applaud about the Conjuring movies as a whole, they stray away from typical slasher/gore-fest material and instead offers a chilling, atmospheric scary flick that in my opinion is far more effective than just watching a bunch of blood and flesh splash on the floor for an hour and a half.
            Story wise the movie’s not very original, if you’ve ever seen The Exorcist, The Haunting, or Hell even the first two Conjuring movies then you pretty much already know what you’re getting into. Sure, it leads to scares that are predictable and obvious but they’re in a movie balanced with plenty of new shockers and varieties of old scare tricks that you really don’t care.
            Most of the acting is passable but the person who really sells this movie is Talitha Bateman as Janice who follows in the footsteps of the little girls from The Exorcist and The Ring as one of the most terrifying children in a horror movie I’ve seen in a long time. I mean it, she goes from sweet and innocent to shit-your-pants scary in an instance and every time she’s on-screen and possessed it’ll send chills down your spine and hopefully she’ll be cast in more scary flicks in the future.
            My only real issue with the movie is the beginning, not because it’s bad but it heavily relies on cheap jump scares and they come off as loud and annoying, not at all scary, it’s a forced cliché that’s really overstaying its welcome. But the second and third acts make up for it and lead to some legit scares.

            If you’re a fan of The Conjuring and Annabelle movies, this one’s not to miss, it covers more of the doll’s backstory and ties directly into the first movie at the end. Annabelle: Creation makes up for the sin of the first film and brings the doll back to its Conjuring roots and hopefully The Nun and The Conjuring 3 will continue the frightening success.

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