Annabelle: Creation: DVD Review
Cast: Anthony LaPaglia, Miranda Otto, Stephanie Sigman, Lulu Wilson, Talitha Bateman, That bloody creepy doll
Director: David Sandberg
There's just something inherently creepy about dolls.
Ask Chucky, and now ask Annabelle, the doll given life in the first Conjuring movie and unleashed into a prequel here by the director of the muchly impressive jump-fest Lights Out.
This prequel concentrates on the birth of Annabelle and on that front, it's rather tame.
Opening with Anthony LaPaglia's dollmaker Samuel Mullins sitting among doll body parts in a shed in the 1940s, like a bizarre kindly serial killer cum Gepetto, the doll is made and placed in a box with little to no fuss.
A little while later, during an innocent moment, Mullins and his wife (Miranda Otto) lose their daughter to tragedy and retreat in their isolated home to grieve.
Jumping a few years later, the Mullins open up their home to a busload of orphan girls and their guardian Sister (played by Spectre's Stephanie Sigman), giving them a place to grow up.
One, a polio-riddled kid called Janice (played with equal parts warmth and equal parts terror by Talitha Bateman) is an outsider from the group. In an homage to Rear Window, her life gets worse when she stumbles into a locked room and meets the doll...
Annabelle: Creation gets great truck from its creepy atmospherics, orchestrated to perfection by Sandberg, who delivers long drawn-out shots of freaky looking corridors, swamped in darkness and with ominous touches clearly present.
Smartly, Sandberg realises the ultimate reveal of the demon is a bit of a waste of time, and wisely confines his scares to moments within the house, long-drawn out scenes and lingering camera shots which simply focus on the expressionless eyes of the totally menacing doll.
Great manipulations of the use of sound also helps Annabelle: Creation achieve a spooky and sinister soundscape, even when things get silly around the protagonists. And while the idea of innocent children being repeatedly menaced isn't exactly new territory, Sandberg gets good mileage out of retreading familiar ground and making it appear fresh.
LaPaglia gives great mournful edges as the bereaved Mullins, Otto is slightly wasted; but the star of the film is 11 year old actress Lulu Wilson, who impresses mightily as Janice's lifelong orphan BFF with an assured turn that cements the extremely solid work she did in Ouija: Origin of Evil.
Even when the story becomes cliched and lapses into the trademark horror tropes of people doing intensely dumb things, Annabelle Creation works a suspenseful and smartly executed horror which never loses sight of what it wants to achieve.
Deeping the Creepy Conjuring Cinematic Universe, Annabelle Creation is a thoroughly solid chiller that rarely resorts to cheap tricks to frighten its audience but delivers exactly what they'd want and expect from a film of its ilk.