The legend grows in ANNABELLE: CREATION, but gets a little long in the tooth
If you know the actual origin story of demonic doll, Annabelle, you’re also wondering why anyone in their right mind would make, much less give, such a nightmare as portrayed in the movies.
I mean, just look at it. My sister had one of those life-sized dolls when we were growing up and that thing lived in the closet under some clothes and a Barbie Dream House because after seeing Poltergeist (1984) we were convinced she’s eat us and wear our skins.
Using that inherent fear against us, from the trumped-up files of debunked demonologists, Ed and Lorraine Warren, comes the origin story before the origin story of Annabelle (2014). For really reals this time. No fooling.
Displaced orphans and their nun guardian find themselves the guests of the Mullins, a childless couple living in the middle of nowhere. Mr. Mullins (Anthony LaPaglia) is a gruff man, having suffered through the tragedy of losing his only child several years early, and the toll of tending to his invalid wife. They welcome the opportunity to bring unbridled life into their large empty house. While the children have the run of the house, there are rooms they’re not to enter. You can imagine how quickly that rule is broken, and the terror it unleashes.
Look – this movie has some very fun, genuine scares. Frankly I would expect nothing less from director David F. Sandberg (Lights Out (2016)). There is an atmosphere of dread and foreboding in every corner of that house, no matter how well-lit the room. The action lives up to the story and the dialog is funny, creepy and engaging. For a large cast, 3 adults and 6 kids – everyone got a chance to be scared. There wasn’t anything cheap about the scares or the thrills, and ultimately we have the bridge from this movie to 2014’s Annabelle (and the Conjuring movies). Technically – all of the bases were hit.
So why didn’t I love it?
This movie is about 20 minutes too long. Normally I love a movie that gives us a chance to get acquainted and comfortable spread out a little, like a soft couch in a new friend’s basement. We have a few drinks, have a few laughs, and just when we’re about to really get into letting our hair down, the dozens of sacs of baby spiders burst and crawl all over us, in our hair, our clothes and our drinks.
Horror movies don’t lend itself well to that luxury. Sure, too many of them don’t give us a chance to care about anyone about to die, but this script, this director, these actors were skilled enough to make us comfortable within moments of screen time. Scares were sacrificed for story, and if this were a thriller, that would be fantastic. In a horror movie, it kills pace and there needs to be a balance. We didn’t need the drawn-out terror or the gaggle of girls – there were perhaps two too many, and you can guess which two. Lulu Wilson (Ouija: Origin of Evil (2016)) continues to impress with her large eyes and command of the innocence of a child and the deep knowledge of what terrifies is.
This movie has its moments and overall it’s a fun little movie filled with the things that make us hide behind our hands even when we don’t know when we’re doing it. The dialog was smart, thanks to screenwriter Gary Dauberman, and no one was an idiot on screen. That makes all of the difference because this could have easily been six shades of terrible, and I mean really terrible. It’s just too long.
ANNABELLE: CREATION is rated R for some pretty horrific violence, like fingers getting bent backwards and broken, kids getting tossed around, a few demon attacks, and the ugliest doll to ever be cuddled.