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article imageReview: ‘Annabelle: Creation’ is creepy… some of the time Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Aug 28, 2017 in Entertainment
‘Annabelle: Creation’ isn’t forging its own path, but it delivers a solid scary doll movie that will give audiences gooseflesh and set them up for the franchises next spin-off.
As a child, dolls that share the features of its owner — height, hair and eye colour, outfits — are delightful. Seeing themselves reflected in the figures brings them a strange sense of camaraderie that feeds their imaginations. However, as an adult, one begins to view these once charming toys with suspicion. What lurks behind those lifelike eyes that follow you across the room? What evil may possess the doll for its malevolent purposes? In Annabelle: Creation, such distrust comes too late.
Samuel and Esther Mullins (Anthony LaPaglia and Miranda Otto) loved their daughter Bee (Samara Lee), but she was taken from them at a very young age in a terrible accident that left them with only the doll Samuel had created in her likeness. Twelve years later, they open their home to an orphanage with nowhere else to go. Six girls and Sister Charlotte (Stephanie Sigman) move in and breathe life back into the house. Unfortunately, they also awaken the dormant evil two grief-stricken parents had let into their home all those years ago. It needs a soul and it’s homed in on Janice (Talitha Eliana Bateman), one of the two younger girls who was stricken by polio, while her best friend, Linda (Lulu Wilson), tries powerlessly to save her.
In spite of the Annabelle doll’s multiple appearances throughout The Conjuring’s ever-expanding franchise, this film conveys its origin story… sort of. The actual possession of the doll is somewhat glossed over in favour of a period more than a decade later when the evil manifests for a second time. The tale of the grieving parents tormented by a malign force impersonating their deceased daughter is relayed in a brief flashback in order to explain the current disturbance. The focus is on its attachment to the orphan girl, and its attempts to scare and weaken her to get what it wants.
Director of Lights Out, David F. Sandberg, has demonstrated a good understanding of what makes an enjoyable horror movie. While his previous film relied on darkness and a mostly unseen demon, the evil object is front-and-center in this movie — it’s just a matter of how she appears and what she does on- and off-screen. Whether it’s a simple, unobserved movement or the doll’s unexpected presence, Sandberg uses her inherent creepiness to his advantage. Then there’s the larger, soul-seeking, evil apparition that simultaneously haunts the girls, beginning with Janice and gradually becoming more aggressive to everyone else in the house as they begin to suspect something is wrong — or it just feels like having some fun.
However, the film is not without its problems. Namely, it’s much too long. Carrying any level of scary intensity for nearly two hours is an almost impossible task. Young girls walking the halls at night and an unsettling doll moving unaided does get a little repetitive. Earning jump scares is important, but not at the expense of over-extending the narrative. It’s also not very original, recycling countless elements (doll, well, scarecrow, darkness) from a number of other horror movies. However, that said, the film does an excellent job of connecting to the greater Conjuring universe with appearances by The Nun and closing the loop with the first Annabelle picture.
Director: David F. Sandberg
Starring: Anthony LaPaglia, Lulu Wilson and Talitha Eliana Bateman
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