Review: ‘Annabelle: Creation’ gets its scare on

By True McManis

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“Annabelle: Creation” released in early August with enough success to remain in theaters –something few were expecting.

The film was created by David F. Sandberg, director of the acclaimed horror short, “Lights Out.” Sandberg recreated the sinister and mysterious atmosphere from the short throughout the film by only showing the doll at specific moments.

This technique is one that many of my favorite directors use to some extent. Films such as “It Follows,” “The Babadook” and the original “Friday the 13th” keep the audience in the dark about much of the terror rather than displaying it on screen.

By keeping the horrific entity off-screen, not only is much left to the imagination, but the entity seems much more threatening when the audience doesn’t feel like the characters will triumph over the entity.

This is especially true in films where the audience cares about the main characters, which this film accomplishes.

The primary characters are a group of orphans left homeless who move into a large house opened to them by a married couple still mourning their daughter’s death.

The story primarily focuses on Janice, an orphan confined to the house after being crippled by polio.

Janice is best friends with Linda, and the two often talk about being adopted by the same family so they can continue their friendship forever. Their relationship makes the audience care about these characters.

“Annabelle: Creation” didn’t have to be as well-done as it was. Its quality surprised me. But the film is not without flaws.

Certain aspects felt cliché, especially after seeing most of the other films in “The Conjuring” series.

For example, when the group moves into the new house old-rock music from that time period starts playing as they walk around the premises.

If this was my first time seeing one of these movies, the scene would have been a good way to introduce the general layout of the house, where most of the action takes place, but at this point it just feels lazy because I’ve seen the same formula rehashed so many times.

Similarly, when stuff around the room starts shaking and the lights flicker, I was left wanting more, something I hadn’t seen before, or at least that same formula in a way I hadn’t seen before.

Additionally, there were a couple of scenes that were almost laughable towards the beginning, and it was obvious the scenes were meant to be taken seriously.

Thankfully, the majority of these scenes happen early on in the movie before too much tension is built and the scenes are not too disruptive to the overall plot flow.

The CGI used for one of the monsters was disruptive. I had the same problem with a monster in the “Ouija” prequel, and while these are two completely different entities, they look extremely similar.

The CGI took away from the feel of the movie because it looks out of place.

That being said, most of those things don’t do much harm to the overall tension buildup. The last 40 minutes or so of the movie drive the tension home, and should be enough to satisfy all but the most jaded horror fan.

Lulu Wilson, the young actress playing Linda, did a great job in her third horror film, and the versatility of someone so young helped sell me on the film.

Conversely, I didn’t think Talitha Bateman, the actress playing Janice, was necessarily strong during the final act of the film. She wasn’t bad, but she was outshined by Wilson.

There were some scenes where she was going for scary that I felt fell flat.

“Annabelle: Creation” isn’t perfect, but it does stand strongly next to most of the other films in “The Conjuring” series.

The film handles its tone well and went beyond my expectations.

Overall, it’s a well-made and entertaining horror movie, and while I wouldn’t call it groundbreaking, it’s pretty creepy. 

 

E-mail McManis at truemcmanis@gmail.com

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