annabelle: creation | annabelle | david f. sandberg | gary dauberman | anthony lapaglia | samara lee | miranda otto | sequel | prequel | mystery | thriller | united states | haunted | haunted house | demon | possessed | lulu wilson | talitha eliana bateman
Film: Annabelle: Creation
Director: David F. Sandberg
Writer: Gary Dauberman
Starring: Anthony LaPaglia, Samara Lee and Miranda Otto
This film is one that I sought out as I was continuing with the Conjuring universe. I originally had heard good through podcasts so that helped me to seek it out. I’m also sure that I saw this when doing my first year-end list as well. I’ve now given it a second viewing as part of the Summer Series for the Podcast Under the Stairs. The synopsis here is twelve years after the tragic death of their little girl, a doll-maker and his wife welcome a nun and several girls from a shuttered orphanage into their home, where they become the target of the doll-maker’s possessed creation, Annabelle.
We begin seeing our doll-maker of Samuel Mullins (Anthony LaPaglia) making the Annabelle doll. The one he completes is supposed to be the first of a limited edition of 100. He lives with his wife, Esther (Miranda Otto), and their daughter, Bee (Samara Lee). Samuel and Bee play a game of hide-and-seek, where she leaves notes and he does this back to her. The movie sets up this is a loving, happy family.
The three of them then go to church. As they are going to leave, a local shop owner asks about the dolls that Samuel is making for him. Esther informs the man that they are done and can be picked up the following day. On their way home, they get a flat tire. Samuel is trying to change it and it is fighting back. Esther notices a truck coming. He ends up flinging a nut and Bee goes to pick it up. She is fatally hit.
We then jump 12 years into the future. We have a bus that is filled with orphans. Sitting together are Linda (Lulu Wilson) and Janice (Talitha Eliana Bateman). They both have dolls and are best friends. They make a pact that they will try to get adopted together, so they can truly be sisters. Driving the bus is Father Massey (Mark Bramhall). A nun is also on it by the name of Sister Charlotte (Stephanie Sigman).
They are taken to Mullins’ house where they have turned it into an orphanage. Also moving into the house are other girls, Carol (Grace Fulton), Nancy (Philippa Coulthard), Kate (Tayler Buck) and Tierney (Lou Lou Safran). We also learn at this time that Janice had a bout of polo. She must wear a brace on one of her legs and walks with a crutch.
As Samuel gives them the tour of the house, he says that they can use any of the rooms on the ground level, except the room that he shares with Esther. She is kept locked up. They come to the stairs and Charlotte states that they will need to make a room for Janice on the ground level. He then reveals that there is a motorized chair that will allow her to get up and down the stairs.
On the second floor, Carol and Nancy take the biggest room. It has four beds and they take one half of the room. Linda asks about staying in that room, but the two older girls choose to have Kate and Tierney stay in that room with them. When Bateman looks for a free room, she comes to one that is locked. Samuel informs her that this room stays locked.
Everyone is excited to be staying in this house. Weird things start to happen though Janice wakes in the middle of the night to find Bee’s bedroom is unlocked. She finds a key that unlocks a wardrobe. Inside is the Annabelle doll. Weird things happen around this isolated house and everyone living there could be in trouble. Is Bee haunting the doll or something far more sinister?
That is where I’ll leave my recap. I will admit that I was leery coming in to see this film, because I was disappointed by the original Annabelle film. I had heard good things from some of the podcasts as I said and decided to watch it that first time. This is one I ended up enjoying quite a bit. We are living up to the name in seeing how the doll was created. Something I want to put here; it looks quite creepy to be made for children. Looking back though, some older dolls are scary looking. From there we gradually see the haunting as it escalates and we even learn what happens to have this demon that now inhabits it. That all worked for me. I like we are getting the concept of people dabbling in things they do not understand and the repercussions as well.
Something else I noticed with the story for this second viewing was how bloody this movie was. That didn’t stick with me. Going along with this, most of our cast is younger people and children. Usually for prequels, it loses something with the stakes for me as I know some people are protected and must survive. We aren’t getting that here. There are children that die in this movie and that adds tension with seeing that.
The last thing I’ll give credit to is not violating continuity. We are getting references to The Conjuring 2 with a picture that Sister Charlotte has as well an after the credits scene alluding to the next movie in this cinematic universe. I like giving us the back-story to this doll and leading into what happens with it once Ed and Lorraine Warren come across it in movies after this in the timeline.
Then on to the acting in this film I thought was solid as well. LaPaglia was great. We see how happy he is in the beginning and how withdrawn he has become after the death of his daughter. He just looks like a broken man who is depressed. To build off that, he also shows fear when he realizes the evil is still there. Otto doesn’t get a lot of screen time, but I felt she was good as well. She is a solid actor. What is interesting about her is that she had an accident that makes her bedridden. She has been reduced to a specter due to be hidden away. She is just a broken woman herself. Bateman was also good for being a child actor. She plays off her psychical ailment well as well as showing fear and the weariness that comes with it. I’ll also give credit to Wilson here as her friend. The other girls were fine as well in my eyes. Sigman did solid as the nun and she was easy to look at which always helps.
Next, I will cover the effects of the film. They were done mostly with CGI, which I normally am not a fan of, but I will say that I think they looked good here. I didn’t see anything that looked fake to me. I loved that the demon we see is normally in the shadows or we get quick glimpses of it. That makes it scarier for me. This film did some good things with its cinematography as well. We see things moving around behind characters that they don’t notice, which terrifies me. There are a lot of uses of mirrors in shots which I thought was a good touch. I felt the film was edited well. It builds tension to the climax which is good. I also loved some of the transitions, especially how they ended it, tying it back in with the original film. The score of the film was decent. They have a song that plays over and over, which is associated with Lee and the demon. I thought that was good and the song choices help set the mood. If I have an issue here, I do think this movie runs too long. There is a bit that could be trimmed as I don’t know if it adds much. That would be about it.
Now with that said, I would recommend seeing this film. I feel that this one stands up there with The Conjuring unlike the original Annabelle film. This one was much tighter to me and had a better story. I do think that this one could be viewed as part of that universe or watched as a stand alone. The acting was good. The effects were as well. The scares were not all based on jump scares, which I’m glad for. We get some brooding atmosphere which I enjoyed. The editing helps to build tension along with the story until the climax. The score was solid as well. If anything, there is a bit that could be trimmed to help this run tighter in my opinion. I would say that this is a good demon/possession film.
My Rating: 8 out of 10