Sound Off! Annabelle: Creation

Welcome back to Sound Off!, a semi-regular column where members of Speculative Chic gather together to chat about the latest BIG THING in entertainment. This time, clutch your favorite childhood doll and discuss Annabelle: Creation, which premiered in the United States on Friday, August 1, 2017.

Sound Off! is meant to be a reaction, but not necessarily a review. After all, while we are all individuals, even mutual love of something (or hate) can come from different places: you may find everything from critique to fangirling to maybe even hate-watching.

Now, join Shara White as she talks about Annabelle: Creation! [Note: No spoilers.]

Shara: I actually had no intention of seeing Annabelle: Creation on opening weekend. Heck, if I’m being honest, I never expected to get around to it in a timely manner whatsoever. Despite being a huge fan of The Conjuring, my husband and I only just got around to The Conjuring 2 in July. We’d never gotten around to Annabelle because it’d gotten such dismal reviews. Yet on Friday night, we were both in the mood for a movie, and we both knew Annabelle: Creation had been released. So we thought, “Why not watch Annabelle and see if there’s any merit to this spin-off franchise of The Conjuring universe?”

What we discovered is it wasn’t nearly as bad as the Rotten Tomatoes score made us fear. In fact, we turned to each other after the movie was over and said, “Let’s watch Annabelle: Creation tomorrow when we go to town,” so we did.

The most important thing to note: you don’t need to see any of The Conjuring movies to enjoy or appreciate this movie. I do think you may want to have watched Annabelle, however, because I don’t think the end of Annabelle: Creation is as nearly effective without it (also because Annabelle establishes certain rules about how the evil works, and these rules don’t get explained in this prequel). Having seen the movies one day after the other, I found Annabelle: Creation to be not only a better film in its own right (mind you, I enjoyed Annabelle well enough on its own, though it had its flaws), but I felt Annabelle: Creation made the story of Annabelle even better. It didn’t fix some of Annabelle’s inherent flaws (the frame story that just makes no sense and is clearly fodder for yet another sequel that will likely be a Conjuring movie rather than an Annabelle movie; then there’s the treatment of Alfre Woodard’s character, and I saw the resolution coming a mile away, and I was like DAMMIT). Anyway, aside from THOSE THINGS, if you focus on the doll and why the doll is so evil (no, there is no explanation for why she has to look so damn creepy to begin with: we will forever wonder), Annabelle: Creation does a fantastic job linking the two movies in a deeply personal way.

Annabelle: Creation also makes use of a fantastically creepy house and really fantastic performances from young actresses. Tabitha Bateman plays Janice, who’s our point-of-view character into all the scary, weird shit that’s happening inside this house, and she does a wonderful job portraying a whole spectrum of emotion in this movie. Really, she’s the MVP. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention Lulu Wilson’s Linda, who plays her best friend. Both girls are orphans, two of six that move, along with Sister Charlotte (Stephanie Sigman), into the Mullin’s home after their orphanage has been closed. The Mullins are naturally mysterious: Mr. Mullin prowls around the property looking sulky and angry, while Mrs. Mullin stays in a closed bedroom and rings a bell when she needs something. Nothing is what it seems, but if you’ve seen Annabelle, you know exactly what’s coming, and you’re not disappointed. Or I was, because every time I saw that damn doll I wanted to hit something. Seeing that doll meant it wasn’t over, and it would NEVER BE OVER.

The tension and the scares were done pretty well, though more of the standard horror fare than some of the psychological tension I enjoy from The Conjuring movies. In The Conjuring movies, there’s always a real psychoanalytical question of whether or not the demonic possession or occurrence can be explained away by something psychological, and that’s terrifying in and of itself. With the Annabelle movies, it’s full-stop evil, no questions asked. Darkness, shadow, and light is used to great effect, though some of the occasional body horror sometimes looked a little too obviously prosthetic or like makeup. That said, and I don’t want to spoil anything here (shocking, I know), but there is a THING that is using the doll as a conduit into our world, and if I saw that THING in real life? I’m pretty sure I would freaking die of fright on the spot. So kudos there.

The ending is excellent. Like SUPER SATISFYING, but again, I don’t recommend seeing this without seeing Annabelle first. Those of us who are fans of The Conjuring will get some Easter eggs (pay close attention to the nun photo, and the shape of the trees; also, if you aren’t familiar with Ed and Lorraine Warren’s real work and the real Annabelle doll? Be sure to Google an image of the real doll before the movie. You’ll be glad you did). There are not just one but two end credits scenes. Nothing extensive, but hey, worth checking out.

Was it a perfect movie? No. I’m kind of wondering if the story broke its own rules about how the evil works, and I wish more attention had been given to Janice’s spirituality, because that’s important to the rules as well.

All in all, story-wise it’s a much stronger film than Annabelle was, and I enjoyed that one too, though I had some issues. Annabelle: Creation improves upon it, and also teases one of the next spin-offs in The Conjuring universe. I admit I’m getting rather addicted to the franchise as a whole, and look forward to seeing whatever comes next.

1 Comment

  • Lane Robins August 15, 2017 at 2:27 pm

    I don’t know why, but everytime I see an ad for Annabelle movies, I think it’s a movie made out of a book that scarred me (in the good way) when I was a child. Bella by Ann Syfret. Then I remember it’s not and get disappointed.


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