She’s back…on HBO at least.
A person like myself, who watches at least 1-2 different horror films a week, doesn’t exactly scare easily. I’m lucky in that I’m not a person that possess many phobias- clowns make me laugh, instead of fearful; blood will only make me queazy for mere seconds; psycho movie killers are more interesting and cool in a sardonic way for me; I find possible demonic presences and paranormal activity more fascinating than terrifying. However, one fear that I’ve never completely shaken since I was a kid…is dolls. When I was 7, 8 years old, I couldn’t even walk into a Spencer’s store because I was too scared of the Chucky dolls lingering the shelves. When my mom bought me beautiful porcelain bridal dolls (that cost her more than a few pennies) when I was a preteen, I told her I didn’t want them staring at me in my room, and I asked her to please move them. Haha. Fast forward to me as an adult, and luckily I grew to love Chucky the killer doll, and even have my own version of him in my possession, as well as not totally panicking at seeing people’s collectible dolls in their homes that I would be visiting. I’m nowhere near afraid of damn dolls like I used to be, but every now and again, there will be one in a horror movie may or may not still get under my skin after watching.
I recently watched Annabelle: Creation for the first time on HBO, after missing its theatrical release last summer- and it’s not terrible! The critics from its initial August 2017 release date really weren’t lying! I’ll admit, I was skeptical- after that first movie.🤨If you’re expecting the same height of fear-inducing levels and well-crafted character arcs that its franchise housemother The Conjuring produced, look elsewhere. But, for a movie that followed the piece of 💩 that was 2014’s Annabelle, Creation is definitely an improvement.
Creation serves as a prequel to the 2014 film, and I felt that it gives us a proper lead to where things pick up in the original film. After a dollmaking couple loses their daughter in a tragic accident, they decide to use their home to host a group of young orphans and their guardian nun. As is expected, shit starts to quickly hit the fan, as one young orphan with polio begins to notice movements from a porcelain doll with pigtails and a dead stare within the house, that we all come to know as Miss Annabelle herself.
I picked up major Ouija franchise vibes- no, not the first piece of shit movie that came out; the other one- its prequel Ouija: Origin of Evil. Like the Ouija franchise, Annabelle producers ditched (some) of the corniness and messiness of their original movies, and added way more simplicity– with old-school, effective horror tropes that get under your skin, to a degree. The titular doll often feels creepier this time around because she hasn’t lost her innocent looks yet. In the 2014 film, the producers made the mistake of augmenting her appearance to a grey, weathered skin tone, as she becomes more and more of a conduit for the demon, which makes it unbelievable to the viewer who can’t understand why the fuck the main characters would still keep her around in the first place. In Creation, the doll just gives her potential victims more deadly, dirty looks instead.
Director David F. Sandberg doesn’t do anything innovative with Creation necessarily, but that doesn’t mean that the film is not effective. Firstly, the sound effects and sound editing are pretty stellar: the first real “scare” of the film (which I will admit- startled me!) I had to turn down the volume because the roar was so loud that I was afraid it would freak my neighbors out. Other scenes containing footsteps approaching the protagonist characters from behind also proved effective, as the footstep sounds increased as the demon walked closer and closer to our heroines. Secondly, the acting is not bad. I’m not saying it’s fantastic, but child actors can usually make or break a movie with their tendency to over act a scene, but a certain young character is forced to change (for the better or worse- I won’t reveal spoilers) and you can tell she enjoyed every second of those scenes. Thirdly, the scares contained in the film are not always jump scares (even though several are) and Creation does a decent job at building tension, instead of always throwing eye-rolling, corny “Surprise! Gotcha!” scares all throughout. Finally, the ending left a satisfied taste in my mouth, as someone who was disappointed in the original Annabelle. We receive an “homage” if you will, to- not only the original film that was lacking (you’ll see what I mean)- but also to the real-life “possessed” Raggedy Ann doll known as Annabelle (pictured below), which the real-life Ed and Lorraine Warren held in a glass casing in their home for years, explaining its danger onto others, just like the Ed and Lorraine characters did in The Conjuring. Also, watch until post-credits! A little snippet from the Conjuring universe makes a brief appearance after the credits roll.
The real-life Annabelle, that the Warrens kept in a safe place in their home, allegedly had the power to taunt/kill those who mocked her after visiting her in the Warrens’ home.
Annabelle: Creation is not a memorable masterpiece per se, but if you’re doll-a-phobic like me, it’ll still give you a chill. Worth a watch on a Friday night. Rating: 7/10