As a huge fan of horror movies, especially The Conjuring, there was no way I was going to miss David Sandberg’s new thrill-ride; Annabelle: Creation. This movie takes us right back to the original Annabelle from 2014 where we discover the origins of the evil doll. With the incredible James Wan and Peter Safran as producers; I had high hopes for this movie and, as expected, they did not disappoint.
Our movie begins with us finding out who Annabelle is and what really happened to her. Annabelle’s father, Sam Mullins is a toymaker who we find is creating a number of ‘Annabelle’ dolls to sell on. He keeps one doll as a present for his daughter, nicknamed ‘Bee’. Sadly, Bee tragically dies in a hit and run near her family’s farmhouse, leaving her parents devastated. Shortly after her death, it is revealed later on in the movie that her parents prayed for a sign from their beloved daughter that she was safe. This, of course, led to something much more evil making its presence known in their house. The entity used the doll to ‘cross over’ and began mimicking their daughter’s spirit. Things eventually turn ugly and the entity attacks Mrs Mullins leaving her disfigured and weak. Mr Mullins then locks the doll away, having blessed the house with a priest, and the couple are finally free from evil. But of course, this is a horror, and this isn’t going to have a happy ending.
Years later, the Mullins’ are welcoming a group of young orphan girls into their home with their guardian, Sister Charlotte, as temporary residents. You can see straight away how this is going to turn out. Like most people, I always hope for good, loveable characters in a horror film; ones that I can really root for that are smart and don’t leave you sat clenching your fists or gritting your teeth in frustration. I was surprised to find that this movie had that quality. Our main girl, Janice, (oddly sharing a similar name to our main girl Janet in The Conjuring 2) is disabled physically but definitely not mentally, and she clearly has bigger balls than anyone else in the movie let alone the scared movie-goers such as myself. Although she makes one, obvious, dumb mistake of going into the room that is ‘forbidden’, she takes the consequences like a champ. I found it funny that I was sat rooting for a 12-year-old girl, that is, until she gets possessed.
The biggest thing about this movie is the jumpscares, as you would expect from a movie that James Wan is involved in. In a cinema setting, this is creepy, and it had me watching through my fingers at least 30% of the time; but that’s what you want from a horror! The scares were well-placed and at times had you laughing at yourself for jumping so badly, but that made it all the more entertaining. The music by Benjamin Wallfisch creates a chilling, eerie atmosphere and adds to the thrill of the jumpscares throughout. There’s a couple of gory scenes which I wasn’t a fan of, but that’s just me; I don’t do well with cracking bones and gouged-out eyes, especially at the hands of the invisible man. Another thing I absolutely love about this film, which I have also noticed in films such as The Conjuring and Insidious, is the skillful direction and cinematography. Our characters are followed into a room, or around the room by the camera, so we as viewers can see what they see; we see their surroundings, we follow their eyes and get scared as they would. We feel their fear like we are there with them. Director David Sandberg and cinematographer Maxime Alexandre have clearly shown how to hook an audience. I felt like I was in the house with these orphans. When Janice is pushed by ghostly hands in her wheelchair, I was sat there feeling that force behind my back. When Nancy and Carol are under the bedsheet telling ghost stories to each other, I felt like I was with them, holding a torch under my chin and telling stories of Mrs Mullins. I was hooked to this film from the get go.
I found myself thinking a few times, “where and when is this going to link to the first Annabelle?” clearly forgetting that this was a prequel and I would have to wait until the very end. Sure enough, Annabelle: Creation flowed right into Annabelle so easily and seemed like a no-brainer afterwards! There was also a very brief link to the rest of the series as well, which got me so excited for The Nun, which is due to be released next year, and will be the fifth installment in the series. Ever since the release of The Conjuring in 2013, I have been a huge fan of James Wan and his ‘Conjuring Universe’. He has taken the worlds of the living and the dead and created masterpieces that not only have you hiding behind the sofa holding a crucifix at arm’s length, but also get you feeling something. Most horror movies, if I dare say it, rarely have a story that feels real, and are just out to scare you. James Wan and his crews have created a series that frightens, but teaches. Annabelle: Creation left me a shaking wreck afterwards, but also made me feel thankful for close friends and family, and empowered by the strength and resilience of the female characters in the movie. Although most people are non-believers when it comes to spirits, and like myself follow the saying “I’ll believe that when I see it”, Annabelle: Creation felt very real and powerful. It’s safe to say I had to switch every light on when I got home after seeing this.