Director: David Sandberg
Starring: Stephanie Sigman, Miranda Otto, Lulu Wilson, Talitha Bateman, Philippa Coulthard, Samara Lee, Grace Fulton, Tayler Buck, and Anthony LaPaglia
Horror filmmakers are working really hard to make creepy clowns and demonic dolls scary again. We still have to wait a few more weeks for the clown nightmares to come back again, but this weekend the disturbing doll from “The Conjuring” saga returns to theaters in director David Sandberg’s newest chiller.
“Annabelle: Creation” is the third outing for the demon inhabiting doll, this time serving as a prequel to a prequel to the original film it was featured in. Mr. Sandberg made a splash in the horror genre last year with “Light’s Out”, a film that displayed the director’s interesting touch with composing a jump scare. You can feel that influence in “Annabelle: Creation”, a film that aims to do more than it’s predecessor did with a scare while also providing more crumbs to feed the appetite of those looking for the origin story behind the Annabelle doll.
A doll maker (Anthony LaPaglia) and his family live a peaceful life in the 1940’s until a tragic accident takes the life of their only daughter. 12 years later the doll maker and his wife are trying to move on with their lives, they open their large home to a nun (Stephanie Sigman) and a group of orphaned girls. It doesn’t take long for strange things to happen, leading one inquisitive girl to a closet lined with pages from the Bible. Inside is a terrifying doll with a connection to a family secret.
Mr. Sandberg moves quickly, letting the scares take control of the story early and watching the audience squirm with anticipation of the next creepy fright coming from a dark hallway, under a bed sheet, or with a child’s toy gun. Some of the scares are cheap, mostly jump scares that horror audiences have seen better in numerous films. Still, Mr. Sandberg has skill in composing these moments, and when he does achieve a great fright it’s because of techniques like framing and composition of the environment. There are far more genuinely creepy moments here than in the original “Annabelle” film that came out in 2014.
Some nice performances exist in the film when the narrative provides the opportunity for a piece of character development to come through. Anthony LaPaglia’s tormented father is an interesting character, but aside from the actor walking around looking angry there isn’t much room to fit him into the framework of why evil lives in his home. The young women in the film compose some nice chemistry when they get a moment to interact with one another, though most of the film they are alone walking into dark rooms or running from scary noises.
One of the reasons the scares are better here is because there are more opportunities to incorporate them. The lack of emphasis on the torn family dynamic, the background of the children, the reason the evil exists for this family and why it utilizes the doll, isn’t given too much attention aside from a film quick scene to try to tie everything together. Still, for genre fans looking for something a little creepy or for just a few jump scares, “Annabelle: Creation” will do the job.
3.00 out of 5.00