Annabelle: Creation - 2017
Annabelle: Creation is the prequel to 2014’s Annabelle, that is also in a sense a prequel to 2013’s The Conjuring. The biggest difference from its predecessor comes from the man behind the camera, David F. Sandberg, the same director from 2016’s breakout horror hit Lights Out. Gary Dauberman returned to pen the script, since he has been chosen to lead the Conjuring Cinematic Universe, with The Nun coming out next year. This movie was also produced by James Wan, a name that has quickly become synonymous with great horror movies. The story centers around an orphanage of young girls and their encounters with the Annabelle doll.
While the story essentially isn’t something we haven’t seen before (demonic possession), it’s the execution from Sandberg that makes it a stand-out. Sandberg’s camera movement were both stylish and tension-inducing. There are many scenes in which the flow of the camera makes you curl up with anticipation to when the scare is going to hit. Annabelle is also filled with creepy imagery that will probably stick with me for a while. My favorite sequence was when one of the girls is trapped in a barn with a suspicious scarecrow. Needless to say, the tension levels were reaching critical mass.
Quick note: Annabelle has Maxime Alexandre as its cinematographer. He was also the cinematographer for 2003’s High Tension, one of my favorite horror movies growing up. He once again delivers.
While the direction is top-notch, Annabelle benefits greatly from its editing and sound design. Michel Aller was brought on board as an editor after working with Sandberg in Lights Out. She created a flow between the down moments and the tension-filled ones, not letting the audience get too comfortable. William R. Dean oversaw sound design and produced some truly eerie sound to go along with the equally eerie imagery. While there are many jump scares within the movie, the sound that accompanies them help them land more effectively.
The cast is comprised of relative unknowns, except for horror veteran Lulu Wilson (Ouija and The Devil Within). Having child actors can be a detriment to the success of a movie, but Wilson and her counterpart Talitha Bateman helped elevate the material presented to them. One of the main reasons the horror genre uses kids is a combination of 1) our need to protect kids and 2) kids aren’t supposed to be scary. When a little kid is the main source of the scares, it tends to be more effective than a grown adult. Dauberman and Sandberg utilized Wilson and Bateman effectively, as we the audience immediately connect with them and root for their safety.
Now, you won’t catch me saying this movie is perfect. In theory, none are. The setup of the movie was honestly a little slow and boring. Yes, the character development for the two main girls was effective, but the rest of the cast was uneventful and forgettable. And the powers of the demon were uneven. During one sequence, he seems unstoppable, manipulating every element around him, and in another a locked door is all that it takes to stop it. Also, the ability of the people to hear things was sketchy at best, at one point promptly responding to a single noise and then nobody wakes up when a little girl screams her lungs out.
The creators of Annabelle: Creation managed to pull off what many would’ve thought close to impossible: they made a prequel to a bad prequel work. I was tensed and creeped out. Despite the flaws, I was very entertained by the movie. Watching a talent like David F. Sandberg explode on to the scene is why I love movies.
Annabelle: Creation is currently playing in theaters. Just make sure to close your doors when you get home.
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