Annabelle: Creation (Movie Review)

Annabelle: Creation (Movie Review)
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PLOT: Years after the death of their daughter, a dollmaker and his disfigured wife open their home to an orphanage. Soon after the girls arrive however, a demonic entity in the form of that familiar doll begins to haunt all those in its presence.

REVIEW: When it comes to horror sequels, you’ll find quite a few similarities between ANNABELLE: CREATION and last year’s OUIJA: ORIGIN OF EVIL. For starters, while ANNABELLE and OUIJA are pretty terrible, the sequels are massive improvements. The two films are origin stories taking place near the same time period - thank God no cell phones. And ironically, they both feature young Lulu Wilson in a leading role. The young actress is certainly making a name for herself in the genre with these two films and the Eric Bana thriller DELIVER US FROM EVIL. All that to say, yes, ANNABELLE: CREATION manages to bring a little fear and horror back to the possessed doll, thanks to a solid cast and a spooky story.

annabelle creation anthony lapaglia lulu wilson miranda otto david f sandberg the conjuring sequel 2017

ANNABELLE: CREATION begins with Anthony LaPaglia and Miranda Otto as a dollmaker and his wife who suffer a tragic loss. Years later, after a little healing, the two open up their home to a small church funded orphanage. Once the group of girls arrive along with Sister Charlotte (Stephanie Sigman), they discover a series of strange events. The paranormal occurances seem to focus on young Janice (Talitha Bateman), a girl left crippled from polio. As Janice’s behavior changes, the other girls, particularly her best friend Linda (Wilson), begin to question the existence of an evil presence that connects with the homeowners daughter.

There is a huge difference between the original ANNABELLE and the new film which makes its premiere tonight at the LA Film Festival. ANNABELLE: CREATION rises above the poorly acted and dull first film. In other words, Annabelle is actually scary again. Another comparison between this and ORIGIN OF EVIL is the hiring of an exciting new name in horror. With OUIJA, they brought on the very talented Mike Flanagan. And now, we have the man who brought us LIGHTS OUT. Much like his previous effort, David F. Sandberg creates an atmospheric ghost story, and this time it is more in line with THE CONJURING movies off of which it was based, as opposed to the crappy first entry.

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Before we get into the cast, lets talk location. The period setting is a perfect way to re-introduce audiences to Annabelle. And that house where most of this takes place makes for a menacing location. You have a creepy well just outside that may hold a few secrets. There is the locked bedroom door where the young girl that passed may still haunt - or something worse. And then there is that damn chair lift that Janice must use to get up and down the staircase. What else can you find in a haunted house? Well let’s not forget a dumbwaiter. Sandberg uses it all effectively, even if at times you’d wonder why anybody would live in that house. Especially when you know there are nefarious goings on, why bring a group of emotionally fragile orphans? Yet that's a minor issue that is easily forgotten thanks to the scares.

The focus on ANNABELLE: CREATION is Janice and Linda. Both Talitha and Lulu are absolutely terrific. In fact, most of the cast is spot on. Grace Fulton is perfectly cruel as an older teen desperate to get adopted and fully realizing that she probably won't. As for the adults, it is a pleasure to see both Anthony LaPaglia and MIranda Otto in a horror film. Otto has an especially interesting role that could have come across hokey, but she pulls it off quite nicely. The acting here is so good, that you almost forget how atrocious the performances were in the original. In fact, the biggest problem I have with CREATION is when offer up a scene from the previous film and it is still terrible. Thankfully, it’s easy to forgive being that there is such an obvious improvement with a new director.

annabelle creation anthony lapaglia miranda otto lulu wilson the conjuring david f sandberg horror sequel 2017

If you are familiar with ANNABELLE and of course her introduction in THE CONJURING, you are already aware of her story. A ghostly presence requests to live in the doll, and with the consent of the owners they are able to take a physical form. This premise was wasted in the previous film, but here it feels natural. With the grieving parents suffering from the loss of their daughter it works far better as to the why. Sandberg - from a script by Gary Dauberman - manages to make it believable. One sequence that is reminiscent of PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3 is particularly unsettling, perhaps because those being tormented are so young and innocent. In fact, there are moments that feel inspired by not only THE CONJURING, but classics like THE HAUNTING as well.

ANNABELLE: CREATION is a spooky concoction from the man who brought us LIGHTS OUT. It may not reach the heights of either of THE CONJURING features but much of that comes from the incredible work from both Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson as Ed and Lorraine Warren. However, this origin tale of that frighteningly evil doll makes for a more than satisfying ghost story. While the young girls are all terrific and LaPaglia and Otto add a little class, you also have Diana from LIGHTS OUT. Yes, Alicia Vela-Bailey has yet another ghostly role as “Evil Mrs. Mullins.” CREATION continues to build in THE CONJURING universe, and somehow it manages to make Annabelle scary again. This time around, she is worth setting up a play date with for all your demonic needs.

Extra Tidbit: ANNABELLE: CREATION opens August 11th
Source: AITH



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