Annabelle: Creation movie review - Visually rich, competent performances with clichéd horror tropes
If I see one more horror movie about someone moving to a new house, facing supernatural things and ultimately leaving it, I’m going to get an Ouija board, summon a spectral entity, and ask it to murder film writers who come up with this same idea over and over again.
Annabelle Creation is no different from any of the bazillion films made in this subgenre, and while it looks and sounds fairly promising, it doesn’t offer anything new for horror movie geeks.
The film is directed by David F Sandberg who made the surprisingly fun Lights Out last year. Much like that film, Annabelle Creation is visually lush and has competent performances, and it’s also got a well-designed atmosphere. But Lights Out had a new kind of supernatural threat, something we’d never seen before, and it made the film worth revisiting. The core story and ghostly entity of Annabelle Creation is unfortunately so cliché it hurts.
In a prologue we’re introduced to a family in 1940s America that loses a child in an accident. A few years later a bunch of orphans along with their caretaker move into the house. There’s a room which houses the titular doll and spooky things start to happen fairly quickly. The girls are terrorised by the ghost in the house and one of them is possessed. If you’re looking for something more than this you’ll have to look elsewhere because that’s all there is.
The problem is none of those clichés in the story are executed with any ingenuity.
There are quite a few jump scares but they’re all predictable and ultimately not very memorable. One would expect this to be a much better film than Annabelle considering Sandberg’s involvement but despite his best efforts he’s bogged down by writer Gary Dauberman’s hackneyed story beats. There’s only so much visual trickery one can conjure when you’re working with material that’s been done to death.
The other issue is narrative logic. Those who have watched the Conjuring films already know that the doll is possessed – so when the ‘reveal’ is done in such a dramatic fashion it is an unearned shock. There are also no apparent rules on what the entity in the film does and what it wants. You get to see the entity’s face but there’s no clarity on what the heck it wants to do – so when that is not clear it is a little difficult to be scared.
Cranking up the volume to a maximum at every appearance of the ghost can render a body shock from audiences, but no real entertainment value.
One can’t help but feel that Sandberg did this film as a favor to do the DC Shazam movie. In any case he’s one of the most exciting new filmmakers out there but any studio that works with him needs to give him better writers to back his vision and passion. The only interesting aspect of this film is the post credits scene featuring Valak from Conjuring 2 – let’s hope he gets a better spin-off than this.