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Annabelle: Creation




Annabelle: Creation (R)
Film Reviews by Amy Diaz

08/17/17
By Amy Diaz adiaz@hippopress.com



 Orphans staying at a rundown home in the country are menaced by evil in Annabelle: Creation, the second movie in the series about a super-creepy-looking doll.

Don’t worry if you don’t remember the first movie. Not until the very end of this movie, when we see how it twists around to connect with the first, did I even remember what the first Annabelle was about, and yet I followed this movie just fine.
Here, we start with a loving family: doll-maker Samuel Mullins (Anthony LaPaglia), his wife Esther (Miranda Otto) and their daughter Bee (Samara Lee), on whom they dote. Because being a happy family with a young daughter in a horror movie is like being a cop on his last day before retirement in an action movie, I am not shocked when things take a sudden horrible turn for the Mullinses.
Jump 12 years and we see the Mullins’ once grand house in a state of disrepair. A bus of orphans drives up and we learn that Mr. Mullins has agreed to let Sister Charlotte (Stephanie Sigman) and her six young charges stay in the large house: teen girls Carol (Grace Fulton) and Nancy (Philippa Coulthard), tweenish-types Kate (Taylor Buck) and Tierney (Lou Lou Safran) and close friends Janice (Talitha Bateman) and Linda (Lulu Wilson). Janice is still recovering from polio and walks with crutches. Even though she thinks this may hurt her chance at adoption, she and Linda vow to stick together and try to end up with the same family. 
The Mullins house is nice but clearly a gallery of spookiness, what with the creaky floors, ever-present gloom, an unseen Mrs. Mullins who is (because of a mysterious accident) confined to her bed on the first floor and the locked door upstairs to a room no one is allowed to enter. Do not enter this room, which is never unlocked, says Mr. Mullins. Naturally, Janice is drawn to the room, the door of which opens, and to a closet that contains a giant scary doll that even she tries to lock back in there. But, ha!, nice try, Janice! Once you open to door for the doll, the doll accepts your invitation to come out and infect people with evil and/or murder them.
Annabelle: Creation has an admirable sense of humor. This is not to say it’s a jokey movie or a Scream-like meta horror movie. It just doesn’t seem to take itself super-seriously. I laughed out loud at least once and found myself chuckling a few more times. And it wasn’t just me — I heard laughter elsewhere in the theater where I saw this movie. The things we were laughing at — bits of dialogue, bits of scared-face business from the actors, comic understatement — weren’t movie flaws or camp. But it’s clear that the movie knows what kind of story it’s telling, a story that involves an evil doll and a glowy-eyed demon. In fact, I think a character may even refer to the doll as a creepy-looking doll. I appreciate this. Too often in horror movies (including the forgotten-by-me first Annabelle, according to my review) there is no acknowledgment of the weirdness or the creepiness until, like, the bedroom furniture has come alive and is killing people. There’s something refreshing about characters who state matter-of-factly that weird things are happening and people are going to die.
The actors fit nicely into this environment. Nobody is shocked, shocked that the doors are closing by themselves or that the mask-wearing lady has a sad secret. But also, nobody is wisecracking. Everybody does what they need to do, is as freaked out or secretive or whatever as they need to be — not Oscar-worthy, just getting the job done.
I’ll admit that this is not necessarily my preferred flavor of movie; I tend to find straight-up, no-twist horror to be frankly kind of boring (nothing is more boring to me than a jump scare and there was a long time when horror movies seemed to be 90 percent jump scares, 10 percent eye squishenings which is also on my least-favorite list). But The Conjuring movies, from which this Annabelle series is an offshoot, have generally been good about putting a layer of something else (self-awareness plus, occasionally, character development and solid pacing) on the unexpected door slams and spooky shadows. Annabelle: Creation has just enough standard scariness to, I think, please fans of non-gory horror and enough skill at story construction to keep casual watchers from walking out. C+
Rated R for horror violence and terror. Directed by David F. Sandberg with a screenplay by Gary Dauberman, Annabelle: Creation is an hour and 49 minutes long and distributed by Warner Bros. 





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