Review by Grant Dillard, Staff writer
“Annabelle: Creation” is a prequel to the very popular “Conjuring” series, as well as a prequel to the “Conjuring” spinoff “Annabelle” released in 2014. The first “Annabelle” was received very poorly by critics and audiences alike. However, “Creation” is not only better than the 2014 film, but, also may be the most terrifying horror film of 2017.
Many years after the tragic death of their daughter, a dollmaker and his wife allow several orphan girls, as well as their nun caretaker, to stay at their home. However, what started out as a generous offer takes a turn for the worse as one of the girls becomes the target of Annabelle who is revealed early in the film to be the creator of the doll.
One of the factors that helps “Creation” stand out among the ever-growing crowd of below-average horror films is the setting and characters. Rather than just focusing on a couple of idiot teenagers doing stupid things in modern times, the film’s 1950s setting allows for more attempts at building a creepy environment, as well as having more likable characters. In modern day, the house where the orphans stay at would obviously look creepy due to how old fashioned it is. But seeing how the time period fits in with the house, it makes sense that the characters wouldn’t figure out at first that there’s an evil presence lingering.
The characters are handled quite nicely. Janice, a little girl with polio, and her friend Linda are the characters who get the most development. The friendship between the two girls is very believable and the young actresses do a good job in their roles. Also, it’s a clever decision to have Janice be affected by polio because it adds to the tension when the ghost tries to get her as well as making her more vulnerable. She can’t simply run away like a normal person would due to her disability, which adds more sympathy for the character and makes her more compelling. While not exactly memorable, the supporting cast at least aren’t unbearable to watch. Although, there are two older girls who look down on Janice due to her being different. Thankfully, as the film progresses, they start to feel more sympathy towards Janice and become more likable people.
Where “Creation” excels is building up the scares. Rather than just containing endless jump scares, there are several scenes where a character is in a dark room either trying to find a way out or looking at all the different objects in the room. Sometimes it can take over five minutes for the scares to happen and in some scenes there isn’t any payoff at all. What makes these scenes, as well as the movie so scary is the audience doesn’t know when exactly the demon is going to pop up. The simple waiting for the scares is enough to make viewers feel nervous and terrified. It also helps that the way darkness is used is brilliant. The rooms are so barely lit it’s hard to figure out where exactly the demon may or may not be. Therefore, when the demon does finally pop out, it’s much scarier.
Thanks to its clever way of developing scares and brilliant use of darkness, as well as its good characters, “Annabelle: Creation” is easily one of the scariest films of 2017. Fans of the “Conjuring” series will easily like this film, but even non-fans will enjoy it too. Those looking for an actual well-made horror movie should look no further, as “Annabelle: Creation” is scary good.