DIRECTOR: David F. Sandberg
WRITER: Gary Dauberman
Talitha Eliana Bateman
Samuel and Esther Mullins suffer the tragic loss when their young daughter Bee is hit and killed by a car. Twelve years later they welcome a nun and six orphaned girls into their large rural farmhouse. Samuel, who is a dollmaker, gives strict instructions that all the girls are not to enter Bee's room under any circumstances. When one of them goes against his will, she unleashes Samuel's possessed creation, Annabelle.
In 2016, David F. Sandberg landed in my 'Best Horror' movie list with his film Lights Out. I thought he not only created an incredibly effective horror film, but he made a horror movie where I cared for the characters and wanted to see them survive their ordeal. I thought it was a story that was equally scary as it was emotional. The best surprise was that it was a wide-release horror film that delivered an incredibly dark gut-punch ending that I thought was a brave move by Warner Bros. I enjoyed that David F. Sandberg didn't fold under pressure and gave us a conclusion that had the potential to alienate his core audience.
A year later, he has jumped onboard The Conjuring universe and tried to salvage the Annabelle franchise. Like Mike Flanagan a year before, both directors have attempted to provide us with the prequels to less than stellar original films that were universally panned by critics and audiences alike. Their goal was to merely deliver a horror movie that was better than the first film. In both cases, they succeeded in their task. For me though, it wasn't a hard thing to achieve as the first films were underwhelming. Still, it takes a great director to turn public opinion around on a once terrible property, and they need to be commended for it.
Like Ouija: Origin Of Evil, I thought that the prequel Annabelle: Creation was a much better film. They were both vastly superior to their original counterparts. Sadly, just like Ouija: Origin Of Evil, I wasn't at all invested in the first film. So I had little to no emotional investment in their prequels. I didn't care where Annabelle had come from, just as I didn't care what took place before the events of Ouija. They just aren't very interesting origin stories. I felt while improvements over the first movie, I felt myself not caring at all. I was left emotionally cold with both stories.
What Annabelle: Creation gets right first and foremost is the production design. Like Ouija: Origin Of Evil. Both are set in specific time periods. Annabelle: Creation is set in the early forties, and I thought that the film looked apart of that time. I loved the old farmhouse and all the old cars. All of the costumes felt authentic. I think both of these origin stories successfully transport you into that time period. I think that both Mike Flanagan and David F. Sandberg have a very keen visual eye and they've both delivered beautiful looking horror movies. I can't fault them.
Annabelle: Creation also delivers some pretty creepy set-pieces. While it's not exactly scary, I have to hand it to David F. Sandberg. He is an excellent horror filmmaker. He knows how to build suspense and dread very well. We have a moment that involves a scarecrow that would probably play unintentionally hilarious in any other filmmaker's hands, but somehow he has made it tension-filled. A scene involving a lightbulb in a barn is also effective. The scariest moment comes in the form of a woman who has been cut in half from the waist down and begins chasing one of the young girls in a darkened basement.
Where Annabelle: Creation falters for me is in the pacing. Where David F. Sandberg delivered scare after scare with Lights Out. He takes his time in building the tension and suspense here, but it comes at the cost of a film that more often than not feels like it drags on. You can feel that this runs at an hour and forty minutes as this feels longer. On a rewatch, this film feels like it runs at over two hours. I'm all for the slow burn, but this just lagged in a lot of the more dialogue-heavy scenes. I'm basing my review off of my first watch and not my third because I think that it would sink lower now than it did when I watched it back in 2017. It wouldn't be fair to be a year late to my review and give it my latest rating.
The acting in Annabelle: Creation is solid for the most part. Being Australian, I loved seeing both Anthony LaPaglia and Miranda Otto headlining a big Hollywood produced horror film. It's great seeing actors from my homeland who are doing well overseas. It never gets old. As for the young actresses, I think Lulu Wilson is the new queen of the Prequel as she is in both this and Ouija: Origin Of Evil. Talitha Eliana Bateman is probably the most significant role in the film, is hit and miss for me. I think once her character becomes the sort of villain, it becomes incredibly cheesy. I think in the first half of the film, she is fantastic.
Lastly, I wanted to mention the ending of Annabelle: Creation. The movie has one of the best conclusions that connect the prequel to the original film that I think I've ever seen in a movie. I've actually seen people say that the ending is what kills the film for them. Even though the original film is pretty bad regarding quality. The way that the writer and filmmaker have tied these two stories together is almost perfect. So when I witnessed this back in 2017, the ending truly floored me. I was so shocked at how well they tied together. Even if I didn't like the film, the ending would have scored it points alone.
DEATH TOLL: 5
BLOOD AND GORE:
- A little girl is hit by a car.
- A young girl is scratched down the leg.
- A woman is stabbed to death in bed.
- A man has his throat slashed.
- A woman is shown with a missing eye.
- A man has his fingers broken backwards.
- A man is found dead on the floor.
- A young girl is picked up and thrown down the stairs.
- A woman is shown to have been ripped in half from the waist up.
- A little girl's bones break and snap as she stands up.
- A woman is thrown against a mirror.
Annabelle: Creation is a worthy prequel. The movie delivers enough thrills to get itself across the line. The acting in the film is excellent. It's lovely to watch a movie lead by two Australian actors. The connection to the first film is fantastic, and the movie does enough to get itself across the line for me. I think that the film on repeated viewings won't bode well, but as a first-time watch, this is a decent enough example of when a supernatural horror movie prequel gets it right.