Annabelle Creation, Scarier Than The First?
Annabelle: Creation is the prequel to the spin-off prequel stand alone Annabelle film, which was vastly inferior to the first Conjuring film which came before it. My only hope going into the theater was that it would be better than the first. I always wondered how such a creepy doll made for such a dull horror film. Thankfully this entry is an example of one of the rare times in which the sequel is better than the original. Taking place roughly a decade before the first Annabelle film, Creation follows a group of orphan girls who are taken in by the Mullens, a couple who is haunted by the tragic death of their daughter. I was a little unsure at the beginning of the movie once the child actors were introduced. There are some great child actors and actresses out there but they can easily make or break a film. Our first impression of them is a scene in which they bounce around on a bus, unknowingly making their way towards certain doom. It turned out to be a decent establishing scene that introduced us to the girls and their friendship. I did not realize however one of the main girls, Linda, is played by Lulu Johnson from the other successful prequel sequel from last year, Ouija Origins. This makes her some what of a lucky charm for these types of films.
The portrayal of the loyal friendship between her and Janice (Talitha Batman) was crucial in giving the story some likable characters and gave the audience something to be sympathetic towards. Janice has a handicap and relies on a leg brace and sometimes Linda's help to move around. This makes it harder for her to hang with the rest of the girls and created some tension and jealousy in the group. To the movies benefit, this also opens up a few creative opportunities to really spook the viewers. There were a few scenes involving either a wheelchair or a slowly moving, but functional chair lift, which had me as terrified as the young screaming girls on the screen. I think what helped this entry over the last was a more confident direction from David Sandberg (fresh off his first debut Lights Out.) Though he borrows some visual elements from James Wan's first Conjuring (and I wouldn't have noticed this had I not re-watched The Conjuring just a few days later), Sandberg's use of tension and foreshadowing offered more than just cheap scares. There are some great moments of tension here that lead to some downright creepy and disturbing moments as the scares get more intense throughout. Again, these moments of horror wouldn't be as impactful if there weren't characters we at least sort of cared about. There was one moment in particular where Linda begins running with another character, away from the threat, and after being asked what they're running from replies "Who cares, RUN!".
Even though this was the better Annabelle, it somehow managed to make me want to revisit the first one. It made me especially interested after seeing how they tie into each other (which is too good to give away.) Don't forget to stick around after the credits for some more ties into the Conjuring expanded universe. So, with more likable characters this time around and a more confident director (who was able to match Wan's style much better this time around,) Annabelle Creation was a scary success for the mainstream horror audience and one I wouldn't recommend watching alone. 7/10 creepy doll eyes.
As a visual aid, we thought it might be helpful to create a reference for how the Conjuring films fit into each other. Enjoy our string board below! Also be sure to check out our latest podcast episode where we talk more about Annabelle and some other fun possession movies!