LA Film Festival Movie Review: ANNABELLE CREATION (2017)

There are certain things within horror films that can make my skin grow cold in an instance. For example, anything that snaps or bends in an unnatural way or when a character is able to crawl on the ceiling unbeknownst to the person below, sends shivers down my spin. Also, dolls. It doesn’t matter if it’s a seemingly innocent Raggedy Ann doll or a porcelain keepsake, dolls have a tendency to put me on edge.

When James Wan introduced Annabelle into THE CONJURING, I made sure to keep a special eye on it, mostly due to how terrifying it looked. As the popularity of the films grew, it only made sense for an Annabelle film to come next. Though ANNABELLE wasn’t critically praised, it did well enough for a sequel to be announced. However, instead of taking place after the evens in ANNABELLE, audiences were going to have a chance to learn the origin story and dark secrets surrounding the notoriously haunted doll.

ANNABELLE: CREATION is directed by David F. Sandberg (Lights Out) and stars Stephanie Sigman (Spectre), Miranda Otto (Lord of the Rings), Anthony LaPaglia (Empire Records), Talitha Bateman (The 5th Wave), and Lulu Wilson (Ouija: Origin of Evil). The story centers on a nun and a group of orphaned girls who are taken into the home of a dollmaker only to become the target of the malevolent Annabelle doll.

As I mentioned above, the first ANNABELLE film didn’t garner a lot of love from critics and fans. Going into this film, I wasn’t really what to expect from director David F. Sandberg. Having had only one feature under his belt, I wasn’t sure if audiences were going to be in capable hands. However, I’m happy to report that my concerns were undoubtedly proven wrong, as Sandberg took the direction and story of this film and made it his own, in my opinion, perfectly. I applaud him for being able to really dig down deep into the fears people have with dolls and convey that onto the screen with Annabelle. Though she doesn’t talk and you never see her move on her own, she is just as terrifying as you can imagine.

In regards to the acting, I was blown away by the talent that each of the orphaned girls possessed. I was familiar with Lulu Wilson, having seen her in Ouija: Origin of Evil, and she was just as captivating and adorable in this film as she was in Origin of Evil. Talitha Bateman was really the breakout star though, as she portrayed Janice, a crippled orphan who finds herself at the forefront of Annabelle’s evil. The relationship between Lulu Wilson’s character, Linda, and Talitha Bateman’s character, Janice, was believable and it was hard not to think that these two actors were really that close in real life.

Apart from the acting and directing, what makes this film stand out from the other horror movies is the quality scares. Most of the time, big budget films such as these, rely on cheap jump scares to get the audience through the film. However, the scares that were placed in ANNABELLE: CREATION were methodical and sneaky, confusing the audience to think one thing, only to surprise them with something completely different. One aspect that I truly appreciated was the absence of music, which is usually played when a scare is about to unfold. The silence made those moments even more terrifying, to the point where you weren’t sure if something was going to happen or not and that vulnerability made for some great tension and scares. I’ll even admit to the fact that there was a moment in which I screamed out loud during the film, which is something that rarely ever happens when I watch a movie.

Overall, I was absolutely blown away by ANNABELLE: CREATION. Not only was the acting and directing superb but the story that Gary Dauberman wrote brought the entire Annabelle legend full circle. Not only do we get to see how Annabelle tied in with the universe that James Wan has created, the audience gets a brief glimpse into another film that is soon to come out, THE NUN. It happens quickly, so make sure you keep your eyes out for it. All in all, this is one of the best horror films to come out this year and one that you will want to make sure you see when its release August 11, 2017.

Shannon McGrew
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