Annabelle returns for another go around in the latest chapter in the other dark universe.
The right atmosphere can definitely make a film more enjoyable, and the screening for Annabelle: Creation had it all. The creepy music, old lanterns lining the walkways and Annabelle masks plastered on each seat.
Expectations were fairly low as the film’s predeccesor Annabelle eliminated everything that made the doll terrifying from our first introductions in box office smash The Conjuring. Something in the doll’s eyes must have caught the attention of the creative team, however, because they’ve come back to tell the story right.
David F. Sandberg, who directed the abysmal Light’s Out, is orchestrating the scares. Unlike Light’s Out where a new world had to be created, this sandbox was already full of toys to play with and is subsequently much successful from the get go.
“Where does he get those wonderful toys?”- The Joker
A prologue featuring construction of the original doll by toy maker Mr Mullins (Anthony Lapalgia) sets the scene and opens up a world full of potential creepy toys. It doesn’t take long for things to go bad, with his daughter dying before the title card has even rolled.
Flash-forward 12 years later and we’re heading back to casa-dela Mullins. A bus full of female orphans and a nun are heading down a dirt road to take up residence in the isolated house.
Years after Mr Mullin’s wife (Miranda Otto) has suffered an accident it seems like the time has come for the guests to breathe fresh life into the down-trodden couple’s compound. Unsurprisingly, one locked door too many is not going to keep these girls from snooping around.
Welcome to the dollhouse.
Annabelle: Creation shouldn’t work as well as it does. Despite several times being able to foresee the danger ahead, the scares still hit their target. Simple sounds, like a ringing bell that creeps closer or a retractable string toy that gets snatched from the shadows, make your heart beat faster than it logically should.
Scattered throughout the film are the fingerprints of The Conjuring mastermind James Wan: Record players with old music suddenly starting, children’s toys filling forbidden room and the camerawork swirling around the house hinting at all the hot spots for potential terror.
And the scares aren’t particularly gory either. More is accomplished by a sheet walking towards a frightened child than any amount of blood and guts. The main set pieces squeeze out as much fun and as many chills as possible, making it hard to resist taking a ride on the ghost train.
What’s wrong with it.
Character development is non-existent. Lapalgia looks as bored as he does missing a Sydney FC match, whereas Mirando Otto performs almost exclusively from behind the mosquito canopy on her bed. The one dimensional characters make rushed, irrational decisions in order to fast-track what goes bump in the night.
When the talking starts there are issues; at times the script has more clunks than a mob bosses trunk. Some of the comic relief is unwarranted, plus the ending relies heavily on the audience’s knowledge of the previous film.
A wobbly third act moves back to more traditional monster scares. Sadly, this undermines some of the far superior early scenes of how scary the unseen can be to the audience – revealing a little too much hinders the impact.
You’ve gotta fright for your right to party.
After the disappointing first chapter, Annabelle: Creation corrects a franchise that we didn’t know needed fixing, in turn making this a pleasant surprise. With a few winks and nudges to the series so far.
Is it ridiculous at times? Absolutely. The girls are told to head back to bed immediately after witnessing something mind-bogglingly traumatic. It’s laughable but also manages to put you right back in the spooky crosshairs.
A return to the well is inevitable with more spinoffs in the works. These include The Nun featuring of course The Conjuring 2’s creepy nun and more Warren adventures in The Conjuring 3. It’s a safe bet that our Annabelle will be back again.