(Rated R) 3 dolls (out of 4)
This week I will be discussing a film that is a prequel to a prequel. Got that? The new film “Annabelle: Creation” is a prequel to the 2014 film “Annabelle”, which was itself a prequel to the 2013 film “The Conjuring”.
So now that we have that out of the way, I actually entered the theater without having seen the original “Annabelle”, so I was a bit concerned. Would I be confused? Would I be upset I had no idea what was happening? Or would I just go with the flow? I chose the latter and was pleasantly surprised. After all, we are just dealing with a movie about a haunted/possessed doll. Thankfully, as stated in the films title, the story is about how Annabelle was created, so even those clueless like myself would not be completely confused. The film begins in 1943 and reveals how doll-maker Samuel Mullins (Anthony LaPagila) and his wife Ester (Miranda Otto) are dealing with the loss of their seven-year-old daughter, who was killed in a tragic accident. After her death, Samuel and Ester often see an entity in their house they believe to be their daughter.
Eventually, the entity convinces the couple to allow it to transfer its essence into a porcelain doll created by Samuel. Not a good idea, but in horror movies characters rarely make wise decisions. The couple soon realize the entity in the doll is a demon, so they quickly lock the doll away in a closet wallpapered with pages from the Bible. Flash forward to 1955, and the couple are welcoming Sister Charlotte (Stephanie Sigman) and six orphaned girls into their home after their orphanage closed. The displaced nun and her charges have no idea what is about to unfold at the isolated California home. When I say isolated, I mean isolated. This home is so far away from civilization that a trip to the supermarket would be a major journey. However, the setting is perfect for a horror film. Even as the girls are settling into their temporary home on the first night, strange occurrences begin almost immediately, which is good due to the films brisk 109 minute running time. One of the girls, Janice (Talitha Bateman), who is crippled from polio, is startled awake on the first night, and immediately heads to the door of the room she is never told to open, thanks to a crayon written note left by her bed. While exploring the room, she soon opens the door to the closet where Annabelle has been stored, and releases horror on the household. The entity is soon terrorizing all the residents of the home, but is really displaying special interest in Janice. I suppose if you “let the genie out of the bottle” you should expect as much.
The tormenting in the house continues until several characters eventually make their way safety, but not until a couple of the girls have a harrowing encounter with a scarecrow, one of the most frightening moments in the film. I must say all the actors in the film were very convincing in their roles, and the young actors playing the orphaned girls were most effective. I also enjoyed the fact the filmmakers didn’t use any big name stars in the film, which helped the story seem more believable. During the film there were plenty of “jumping” moments, startling me to great effect. Director David F. Sandberg (who will direct the DC comics “Shazam” film), does a masterful job in creating just the right amount of suspense and terror, not an easy thing to do with today’s jaded audiences. While “Annabelle: Creation” is not exactly my usual type of film, I really enjoyed the scares it produced. If you see this film, you may never look at dolls the same way again. (Rated R) 3 dolls (out of 4)