Friday, August 11, 2017

Movie Review: Annabelle: Creation

Delving further back into the history of the cursed doll, the latest addition to the Conjuring Universe provides plenty of creepy scares and quality filmmaking that has become a feature of these films. David F. Sandberg directs the haunting tale of a family whose bargain with evil turns into a harrowing experience for the young orphans they invite to stay. Esther Mullins (Miranda Otto) and her doll maker husband Samuel Mullins (Anthony LaPaglia) raise their daughter Bee (Samara Lee) out in an isolated house on a country road. When Bee steps out into the road in front of a speeding car and dies, they are overcome with grief. Twelve years later, they host a group of orphan girls who disturb the precautions they've taken to keep the forces of evil at bay.

Janice (Talitha Bateman) is crippled from polio and has trouble using the stairs but a convenient chair helps her climb. They do all sorts of setup for various horrors to come as Sister Charlotte (Stephanie Sigman) and the other girls explore the house included a dumbwaiter that continuously slams open and a creepy farmhouse full of doll parts. Janice's best friend Linda (Lulu Wilson) suspects something up as Janice becomes more enthralled with the locked room that used to belong to Bee. Janice opens a door to reveal a closet coated with Bible pages and containing the Annabelle doll locked away. Things start to go bump in the night and mysterious occurrences haunt the girls including a sheet mysteriously moving and the doll shifting around.

Esther hides away in a room wearing a doll-like mask and lying in bed, using a bell to call for help. In an especially scary scene, the older girls Nancy (Philippa Coulthard) and Carol (Grace Fulton) tell spooky stories about their host until a specter bursts out at them. Annabelle is only the conduit as in the previous film to a much more terrible looking entity, a black demon that crawls and terrorizes the girls. The creature always takes the shape of Bee that it used to trick the parents into allowing it to inhabit their house. After several scares, a strange figure pushes Janice into the barn and the demon in the form of Bee crawls on top of her and does the possession move that is common for the Conjuring franchise, vomiting black goo into the mouth of the victim. Janice becomes possessed so Linda tries to dispose of the Annabelle doll that she believes is the source of the haunting in a well only to find it popping back up. 

The demon grows stronger eliminating Mr. Mullins by rotting his body gruesomely. Sister Charlotte finds out the truth from Esther who reveals how they were fooled into letting the demon inhabit the doll and her scarred face from an attack twelve years ago. Charlotte tries to evacuate the house but the demon picks her up and tosses her aside. The other girls call for help and check on Esther who has been ripped in half. They try to escape but the monster attacks them, using a scarecrow as a conduit as well. Janice goes after Linda who escapes into the dumbwaiter but the demonic presence chases after her. Finally, Charlotte intervenes to stop Janice and the girls make it outside as the house goes crazy. Janice goes missing and the rest of the girls move on with their lives. Janice reappears as Annabelle and is adopted by Mia's neighbors from the first film tying it together. 

I like the ideas of these prequels and how they tie to a greater universe. Unfortunately, I did not stick around for the post credit scene that hints at the origins of the creepy Nun that made a brief cameo in the film. I look forward to more of these films and hope we get a third Conjuring film to round out the trilogy and plenty more horrific monsters to haunt the cinema. While a step down from the original film and its sequel, Annabelle: Creation out does its previous film and shows promise for the series to come. I'll also look forward to these young girls future roles especially Lulu Wilson who has done a great job in other horror films. Sandberg is also a clever director and his craft enhances the film. Annabelle as a series has life but I would be interested to see how they continue it from here. 

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