by Hope Madden
There are a lot of things James Wan’s 2013 hit The Conjuring got right. Leaning toward practical effects over CGI, casting high-quality talent, and digging into an allegedly true story – all good choices that, matched with his eye for framing and skill with mounting dread, led to a chilling and memorable flick.
There’s also a creepy doll, the element that seems to be driving this unexpected franchise and the only item from the original film that made the leap to Annabelle: Creation.
You remember her – she terrorized a young family, and later a pair of nursing students before being locked in a glass case in that creepy room at Ed and Lorraine Warren’s house.
But did you ever wonder what kind of demonic hijinks created her in the first place? Or do you just find yourself in the mood to watch orphans being persecuted? Either way, may I introduce you to Annabelle: Creation?
Director David F. Sandberg (Lights Out) does what he does best, relying on good, old-fashioned jump scares. If that’s your bag – and you don’t get side tracked with nit-picky things like how utterly ignorant writer Gary Dauberman is of actual Catholicism (so maybe he shouldn’t have chosen a Catholic orphanage!) – then this film may be for you.
Years after a doll maker and his wife lose their precious daughter, they accidentally conjure up a demon to live in the single ugliest doll any toy maker has ever seen fit to make.
Worse choice? Inviting those orphans to move in.
Welp, empty-headed horror it is. And there is something to be said for that in a mid-August slump. This is the sequel to a weak film, itself a sequel of sorts to the kind of movie that felt like a one-off.
It seems unlikely a franchise was the expectation back when Conjuring hit screens in ’13. Since then, filmmakers have scrambled to cobble together a universe of supernatural spookiness to spin off and connect. (Look closely at the picture from Sister Charlotte’s convent – any of those nuns look familiar?)
Sandberg offers little in the way of originality. (He’s clearly a pretty big fan of Wan’s Insidious.) But there are jumps aplenty and a couple of very freaky images in the third act.
Because if you can’t have a creepy nun, may as well make due with a disfigured mother and a scarecrow.