For my reviews of the rest of The Conjuring franchise, click the following links:
- THE CONJURING (2013)
- ANNABELLE (2014)
- THE CONJURING 2 (2016)
- THE NUN (2018)
- THE CURSE OF LA LLORONA (2019)
- ANNABELLE COMES HOME (2019)
Boy, this universe really started building, didn’t it? Kind of one of those unknown crossovers that no one thought were that connected. Or am I only speaking for myself?
For those not in the know, Annabelle is a real thing… kinda. In real life, it’s a Raggedy Ann doll that was supposedly haunted, as examined by famed demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren, the very people The Conjuring films are based around. It’s a safe bet that while the supernatural occurrences surrounding the real world doll and it’s alleged cursed-ness are up for a great deal of debate and speculation, I can factually tell you that the creepy-ass doll in the movies is not a Raggedy Ann doll. So if liberties were taken with the doll itself, it’s a pretty damn safe bet that the movies dramatized the events that happened to everyone.
To clarify, I’ve not actually seen the predecessor film ANNABELLE. It was before I saw (almost) everything and I wasn’t hearing good reviews anyway. The closest that I got to seeing it was watching CinemaSins’ “Everything Wrong with ANNABELLE” comments on the film on Youtube. I recommend that watch, it’s quite funny. But I have to admit, I have a passing curiosity to see this film. Why? Because it’s a prequel horror film. You know what the last prequel horror film was? OUIJA: ORIGIN OF EVIL (2016), which was a pretty good film, especially considering it’s predecessor OUIJA (2014) was… not. This is obviously not indicative if this film will be good, but early ratings and reviews seem to have nice things to say. So… yeah, I’m down for a good horror flick.
The story looks like it’s about how Annabelle the doll came to be haunted in the first place with it’s original owners and how it terrorizes them. There seems to be some gripping drama, what with the demon targeting a girl who can barely walk and possesses her sisters. So this could be pretty solid. Fingers crossed!
Let’s take a look at the cast. Starring, we have Stephanie Sigman (007 SPECTRE , and TV show NARCOS [2015- ongoing]), Talitha Bateman (NINE LIVES , THE 5TH WAVE , and the upcoming disaster flick GEOSTORM ), the criminally under-utilized Miranda Otto (I, FRANKENSTEIN , WAR OF THE WORLDS , and THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE TWO TOWERS ), and Lulu Wilson (OUIJA: ORIGIN OF EVIL). Wait… so the joke is… if you want your superhero film to do well, just hire a guy named Chris (Christopher Nolan [The Dark Knight trilogy], Chris Pine [Wonder Woman], Chris Evans [Captain America], and Chris Pratt [Guardians of the Galaxy]), should the new joke be if you want your prequel horror movie to be good, you just need to put young Lulu Wilson in it? Someone laugh!
Now for the crew. Directing, we have David F. Sandberg, known for LIGHTS OUT (2016), and is rumored to direct DC’s upcoming SHAZAM! (2019). Penning the screenplay is Gary Dauberman, known for WOLVES AT THE DOOR (2016), WITHIN (2016), ANNABELLE, and upcoming films IT (2017) and The Conjuring’s THE NUN. Composing the score is Benjamin Wallfisch, known for A CURE FOR WELLNESS (2017), HIDDEN FIGURES (2016), LIGHTS OUT, and upcoming films IT, and BLADE RUNNER 2049 (2017). Finally, the cinematographer is Maxime Alexandre, known for THE OTHER SIDE OF THE DOOR (2016), and the upcoming THE NUN.
Overall, I’m probably more excited than I need to be, but I can’t help it. This looks like it could be good!
This is my honest opinion of: ANNABELLE: CREATION
An orphanage closes down and Sister Charlotte (Stephanie Sigman) and the girls under her care are accepted into the home of the Mullins, Esther (Miranda Otto) and Samuel (Anthony LaPaglia), who suffered a personal tragedy twelve years ago when their daughter was accidentally struck by a car. Today, Esther hasn’t been seen in years, and Samuel is quiet and grumpy, but accomodating. But before long, the first rule of the house, never going into Annabelle’s old room is broken by Janice (Talitha Bateman), one of the younger orphan girls. She then encounters a creepy looking doll in a closet surrounded by pages from the Bible. Soon, a demonic presence disguised as the ghost of Annabelle trying to possess her.
And the odd trend of good horror prequels continues. Ehh… sort of. It’s no OUIJA: ORIGINS OF EVIL, but it’s good enough, I say.
Keeping with the tradition of The Conjuring films, they do a good job creating a connection between the characters, specifically Annabelle and her parents. Even though the crayon notes, “find me” and “found you” are obvious foreshadows, they’re still cute for the context of the scene.
There’s quite a few creepy and disturbing imagery, like when the demon possesses Janice and walks into the shadows, her eyes glow an eerie white and she’s severely mutated unseen and attacks someone. There’s also a quick bit of a corpse with no lower half of its body attacking someone else. Oh, one of my favorite moments is when Janice is in Annabelle’s room, she throws a bed sheet over the doll and moments later, the bed sheet stands up, slowly walks toward her, but you never see what’s under it. Every step pulls the sheet over whatever is under there, but by the time it comes off, the sheet falls limp to the ground. It was ominous as hell and a really well done. And there’s another bit where after Janice is attacked and goes to the hospital and returns in a wheel chair, she’s out in the open in broad daylight and left alone for a moment. Sort of, her fellow orphan girls are playing in the not-too-distant distance. But then suddenly, a nun-like figure grabs Janice’s wheel chair, and rolls her into the nearby shed to get possessed, but you never see the face of the demon doing this. You’re completely blinded by the sun in your eyes, giving a terrifying realization that this monster will attack at any time, day or night.
However, these are also part of the issues that this movie has. First off, what takes it so long to possess anyone? These girls are thoroughly vulnerable in their sleep, so why doesn’t it try to possess anyone then? Is it some unspoken law that people need to be awake to be possessed? It’s kind of lame. Also, if this demon can attack at night and in daylight, why did it need to possess Janice in the shed? Why not right where it clearly got her in the first place? It doesn’t take long for this demon to possess anyone. Just vomit tar into their gobs, like every other demon or ghost. Also, why does it need to possess anyone? Because the demon can go from the house and to the shed, it’s never quite established where the boundaries are for its influence. Plus, it does a good job of having its own physical form. And later on, there’s scenes where the possessed Janice is attacking one set of girls, and another set of girls are being attacked by the demon itself. This is remarkably confusing because now I’m wondering if it’s the same demon, what’s happening to the other girls while it’s causing chaos somewhere else? Why does it change forms? Are there multiple demons in play? Why are they having such a hard time possessing anyone? And what’s the story with the scarecrow? The climax is so confusing, it’s what hurts the movie the most.
Also strange reference… in real life, the Annabelle doll is a Rageddy Anne doll. That same doll is given to Janice at some point, making this doll’s appearance rather confusing because the doll being marketed all over the place and making its way into pop culture horror isn’t a Raggedy Anne doll. I know, I bitched about this in my initial impressions, but it’s a confusing moment to me that the movie points this out in some fashion. I acknowledge it’s more of a tongue-in-cheek Easter egg more than anything, but still.
Overall, it’s still a solid and well-executed film. Yeah, if you think too much about it, the movie’s confusing moments, especially toward the end, cripple the film. But the cast does a terrific job, it’s atmospheric, limited tropes, everything to make it a decent watch. While I like this movie fine, it’d be wise if the story of Annabelle was left alone now. There’s nothing else to be explored anymore with this doll. I recommend it to anyone looking for an improvement over the first flick. I think horror junkies will like it enough, and casual movie-goers may be more impressed with it than they think.
My honest rating for ANNABELLE: CREATION: a strong 3/5