After David Sandberg's 2016 hit horror film Lights Out, his artistry continues as he delves into the horror realm once again by rebooting the Conjuring franchise with new release Annabelle: Creation. If you didn't think dolls were creepy in Annabelle's cameo from the Conjuring or even in 2014's Annabelle, then you will certainly be in for a shock of terror once you enter the cinemas, as the prequel Annabelle: Creation tells you of Annabelle's origins before she was given to demonologists Ed & Lorraine Warren years later. It gives you a horrific taste of jumpscares in all it's glory & gore as we get to see the primary reason for the unfortunate birth of Annabelle.
The movie is set in the late 1950's, and begins with master doll maker Samuel Mullins (played by Anthony LaPaglia, his wife Esther (played by Miranda Otto) and their sweet daughter Bee (Samara Lee). However, she is tragically killed in a freak accident which causes the parents to isolate themselves away from society until 12 years later. Thereafter they open their grand old home to a nun (Stephanie Sigman) and the orphaned girls under her keeping. It was then that the Annabelle doll was discovered by by one of the orphan girls Janice (Talitha Bateman) and was the determinant to how things soon began to take a dark turn at the Mullins house.
Sandberg certainly takes notes from how franchise forefather James Wan (The Conjuring 1 & 2) incorporates an abundance of evil entities and boogeymen into his films, leaving the viewer overwhelmed with extensive fright and suspense. In this film, he uses his expertise, along with abiding to the horror film format; in order to give life to the little doll as she is obviously visually frightening. He abides to the usual genre clichés of a haunted home, grieving family, orphaned children, religious fervour; alongside visual elements of toys and ambiguous shadows in the dark. Although these themes are formulaic within horror film standards, Sandberg does deliver exceptionally well and still gets the 'creepy' factor across to the audience to the point where you will either throw away any of your childhood dolls that resemble Annabelle; or that you need extra company while alone in your bedroom at night.
There are a few factors that hinder this film from achieving a straight five stars, and that would be the overlong duration of the film (1 hr 49 mins) that consisted of a sometimes overbearing script, which caused some scenes to drag and gave seldom substance to the overall plot. With that being said, Sandberg's movie mastery saves the film from going six feet underground as he consistently keeps the film moving at whirlwind speed all while maintaining the horror-film theme. He creates an infinite scope within the Annabelle universe, which gives way for more scares and more suspense (even the capricious scares are worth viewing). As well it being hard enough to pull off a horror film, Sandberg makes sure to use every space and height within each scene to fully capture the entire world of Annabelle- blood and all. It's all there for the eye, it's just our minds that need to take it in in its entirety.
With all that being said, Annabelle: Creation pays great homage to its predecessor and is a great extension to the Conjuring universe. Despite its flaws, it still manages to succeed thanks to the production, direction, and delivery. Be sure to watch this in the cinema as the scares will have much more impact with an all surrounding sound system and max HD screen.
Annabelle: Creation out today in all cinemas.