Annabelle (2014) received a scathing review from one of our writers here at GBHBL. It was criticized for its heavy dependence on jump-scares as a way of invoking fear, amongst many other things. You can check out that particular review here. Personally, I’ve never seen that movie. However, I have heard the demonic doll mentioned in other films e.g. The Conjuring. Anyway, I went into Annabelle: Creation with no real expectations.
In 1943, dollmaker Samuel Mullins is shown crafting what is to become the hellish conduit, Annabelle. It’s to be a gift for his seven-year-old daughter “Bee”. Sadly, Bee dies tragically in what can only be described as a freak accident involving a moving vehicle. Samuel and his wife Esther are obviously devastated by this, with Esther fully blaming herself for the incident.
Twelve years later, in 1955, the Mullins open their home to provide shelter for Sister Charlotte and six girls left homeless by the closing of their orphanage. Despite having been told not to enter Bee’s locked bedroom, Janice, a young orphan crippled by polio, is awakened by a noise, discovers a note saying “find me”, and sneaks into the room, which has mysteriously become unlocked. She finds a key for Bee’s closet and unlocks it, unwittingly releasing the demon, which begins to terrorize the girls, displaying a special interest in Janice.
Janice is repeatedly attacked by the demonic presence but due to her condition is unable to prove that she simply isn’t just having accidents. Sister Charlotte, who takes care of the girls doesn’t disbelieve Janice which is refreshing. Still, she simply advises Janice to have faith which isn’t particularly helpful. Anyway, Sister Charlotte eventually speaks with Esther who’s bedbound and usually only speaks with her husband Samuel. Esther was left disfigured after having had her left eye gouged out by the demon during their initial encounter twelve years earlier. Esther confesses to the nun the truth behind the doll and the hauntings within their home. Sister Charlotte grows increasingly alarmed that the demon will further victimize the girls.
Will Sister Charlotte be able to save Janice and the other girls from the unholy demon?
Firstly, let me state that I was pleasantly surprised by Annabelle: Creation. I’d go as far as to say that it’s a genuinely solid horror movie. Any movie that decides to cast child actors as a majority sets itself up for problems. Thankfully, I can happily say that as a whole the acting from the children in the film is seriously impressive. Talitha Bateman who played Janice and Lulu Wilson who played her sister Linda deliver quality performances.
All modern horror movies are plagued by jump-scares and Annabelle: Creation isn’t any different. I will say that some of them manage to be quite effective due to a nice build in tension. However, others are more annoying than scary. Would I even call Annabelle: Creation scary? Well, no. In all fairness, I’m not the easiest of viewers to scare. It managed to be quite creepy on a number of occasions which is rare; it got me a few times.
While there are obligatory jump-scares, there are a couple of moments that deliver more. There is one moment in which a young girl is sitting at a table having a tea-party with her back to someone approaching. She’s just sitting there, singing and playing. The person gets a little too close which stops everything. The girl stands up and transforms into some kind of long-limbed creature. I thought this was really well done; it reminded me of something straight out of Silent Hill.
Annabelle: Creation throws a bunch of different things at you with some landing successfully and others, not so much. It could have gone the simple, uninspired route but it doesn’t so I appreciate its attempt at creativity.
This is a horror movie at its core but I feel it manages to tell an interesting tale on top of that. It focuses somewhat on the bond between sisters. Also, how the loss of a child can affect two people and what they are willing to do to have them back.
I have to question the logic on a couple of things though. Like why the Annabelle doll is placed somewhere that it can so easily be released. Also, there is one occasion in which Janice is attacked and it isn’t explained why nobody else witnessed it.
Overall, I thought Annabelle: Creation was a genuinely solid horror movie. I have no desire to see what follows it but from what I know, it leads into that film nicely.