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MOVIE REVIEW: FTN reviews Annabelle: Creation

August 8th, 2017 by Mark McCann Comments

Annabelle: Creation (18)
Directed by: David F. Sandberg
Starring: Stephanie Sigman, Miranda Otto & Lulu Wilson 
Running time: 1hr 49mins

Several years after the tragic death of their little girl, a doll maker and his wife welcome a nun and several girls from a shuttered orphanage into their home, soon becoming the target of the Dollmaker’s possessed creation, Annabelle.

With both of the successful The Conjuring films and the Annabelle prequel setting the scene for Annabelle: Creation, the film has a lot to live up to. A cut above the banal splatter-fest horrors that have blighted the twenty tens with remake after desensitising remake, The Conjuring series have returned something of that old school of horror that relied on plot, tension and a rictus score to achieve what buckets of blood never could. Genuine scares.

It would be easy at this stage in the franchise to get cocky, make a misstep and besmirch a very solid horror series. Luckily Creation happens to have one of the most solid horror production ensembles in Hollywood. And they don’t for a moment let you forget it.

First off, this feels like a James Wan film. Perhaps because he has an eye for horror auteurs, himself having reinvigorated the genre with Saw. Swedish director David S. Sandberg was on the right tracks with his breakthrough short Light’s Out netting him Director to Watch accolade at the Palm Springs film festival. Remade with Wan producing, Lights Out felt like a tester to see if Sandberg was ready for the big league franchised material. As it turns out, he was.

All of the suspenseful build-up that made The Conjuring films such wildly successful fright fests is repeated here to the same great effect. We have the slow, dreadful threat implications, nerves strung taught in the silence, followed by the quick shock release. It’s not perfect, formulaic and a repetitive tactic throughout the series. Yet while these films will never have the craft of a Friedkin or the rawness of a young Hooper, say, for entertainment value Creation is solid gold.

The change in setting is interesting, though the children in a boarding school or orphanage environment are becoming a common horror trope. Gore is sparing, replaced with an excellent sense of dread[G3] . The real trick here comes from still leaving enough of our demonic antagonist in the shadows to play on our nightmares and primal fear of the dark. [G4]

The cast all give a suitably spooky turn; Anthony La Paglia is entirely serviceable as a grim patriarch Mr Mullins, as is Stephanie Sigman as the virtuous nun, Sister Charlotte. The real standouts come from Miranda Otto’s reclusive Mrs Mullins, who gives a genuinely creepy performance, albeit all too short, and Talitha Bateman, who segues between terror and terrible ably.

Of course, I’d love to tell you that this film does something wildly original, but the truth is, it’s operating off of a plot formula that is as old as the hills. Writer Gary Dauberman isn’t doing anything new, instead sticking to a tried and true formula of regular people encountering a creeping demonic entity and the terror that ensues.

Those minor quibbles aside, Produced by Wan and directed by Sandberg, Annabelle: Creation is a well put together piece of horror that ticks the right boxes and will leave cinemagoers who are out for a scary evening entirely satisfied that their money has been well spent.

Annabelle: Creation is in no way original. It is, however, tense, jumpy and does exactly what it says on the tin.

4 out of 5 Nerds

 

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I came here in a time machine from the 1980s. The time machine was called childhood. I'm getting back there at all costs! (I also live, love, write, lift & pet cats wherever I may find them.)

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