Years after Samuel (Anthony LaPaglia) and Esther Mullins’s daughter is killed, the Mullins invite a nun and six orphans—including crippled Janice (Talitha Bateman) and her friend, and a pair of mean girls—when the orphanage is closed. Janice is driven to enter the dead girl’s room and encounters the doll, Annabelle. Thereafter, creepy and supernatural things begin to happen.
Call it Jump Scare, The Movie. Annabelle: Creation is the forth film in the Conjuring series and is a prequel to a prequel. The original Conjuring claims to be very loosely based on a true story—that true story coming from a pair of “paranormal investigators” and scam artists: Ed and Lorraine Warren. I saw them speak years ago; there is more money to be made in speaking tours on silly topics then in fake exorcisms.
The Conjuring series doesn’t exist because it has a string of stories to tell, but because the return on investment is fantastic. So Annabelle: Creation, like Annabelle before it, does not claim to be based on anything, which makes me look at it more favorably than the lying films. In wanting to make more films, the filmmakers needed some connection to the original, so the evil doll was what they had to work with. It’s not a bad choice.
I’m not a good reviewer for Annabelle: Creation because I look at story and theme and character, and this film isn’t interested in those. It is interested in frights. It layers scary moments on scary moments. They are mainly clichés, but they are well presented clichés—as well done as you are likely to find in midlevel horror—and I suspect they will be properly frightening for people who want to be frightened by movies. And those scares aren’t subtle. They are big, loud, and non-stop. Things appear and vanish. Demons and ghosts pop up. A doll is seen rocking in a chair but is gone when the door is opened. The lights go on and off, footprints appear, and the music swells. It would be silly in the hands of weaker actors and crew, but the young actors excel at appearing frightened and the folks over in the DCEU could take lessons from Annabelle: Creation on framing and how to film a dark scene.
By my definitions, Annabelle: Creation isn’t a film, but porn—fright porn—where its sole function is to get the viewer to feel, feel fear in this case. As a film, it fails. As fright porn, it is extremely effective.