Cinematic Releases: Annabelle:Creation (2017) Reviewed

The summer movie season is dying down and studios are throwing out a last ditch effort to get that sweet summer box office money before the kids go back to school. This is the time where you get the big studio comedies or horror films that are aimed to make a killing among young audiences. Most of the time, they are bottom of the barrel trash. But sometimes, you find a diamond in the rough. Annabelle: Creation is that diamond in the rough and serves up some genuine and gory scares that will leave audiences satisfied.

The fourth installment in the ongoing Conjuring franchise, Annabelle: Creation also serves as a prequel to the 2014 film, Annabelle. Former toy maker Sam Mullins (Anthony LaPaglia) and his bed stricken wife Esther (Miranda Otto) are happy to welcome a nun and six orphaned girls into their California farmhouse. Years earlier, the couple lost their beloved 7-year-old daughter Annabelle in a horrific and tragic car accident. Terror soon strikes when one of the girls finds a seemingly innocent doll that seems to have a life of its own.

Wait a damn second! Did you say prequel to a prequel?!
This is getting stupid!

The primary strength of Annabelle: Creation is that it aims to not only scare you but to make you care about the characters. Unlike the first Annabelle movie, I actually can remember this characters and what their motivations were. I actually felt something and actively worried for these characters. And that’s the secret to a good film: the more you care, the more invested you are in what happens next.

There are some interesting and scary set pieces in the film but I found myself more interested in what was happening between the characters. LaPaglia and Otto use their limited screen time to play their characters with a sense of world-weariness and despair that lingers throughout the frame anytime they are on screen. These are two broken people who take in these girls to try and do the right thing. While the acting in the film is especially great for a film like this, I was blown away by the work done by Lulu Wilson and Tabitha Bateman. The friendship and relationship between this two serves as the beating heart of the film and I was really impressed by their range and depth. The work these two do is standout and I hope we get to see more of them in the future.

The biggest issue I had with the film is ironically one of its strengths. We have two very compelling sets of characters, the grieving couple and the orphans, and while the script tries to give both of them a fair shake but it does feel more like it is about the orphans. Sandberg and Dauberman try to focus on both but it does seem that the film would be better off focused on one of the other.

That being said, I was surprised by how much I really enjoyed Annabelle: Creation. It feels like a horror film that was snuck by the studio system and it is one that I would love to revisit. 

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Liam S. O'Connor