2017 has been such a strong year for women at the movies, but between this and “Atomic Blonde” we have suffered a late summer recent set-back.
“Annabelle: Creation” is the prequel to the prequel to “The Conjuring” and depicts the origins of the possessed Annabelle doll. The film stars Stephanie Sigman, Talitha Bateman, Anthony LaPaglia and Miranda Otto and is directed by David F. Sandberg.
I nothing the original “Conjuring,” it’s a fine-made movie that just wasn’t that scary to me but I appreciate director James Wan’s efforts, but I *hated* the first “Annabelle” film. It was one of the worst films of 2014 and had some of the most deplorable acting I had seen in a long while. This film is certainly a step up from its predecessor, however much like the initial “Conjuring” installment, it just is too boring and too not scary for me to recommend.
I’m not typically the right person to ask for opinions on horror films because the fact is I don’t get scared in them all too much. Typically modern horror films tend to be predictable and use the same old troupes and “Annabelle: Creation” is no different. From its over-reliance on heightening soundtrack and jump scares to its laughably dumb characters, nothing in this film feels fresh or risky.
From the opening scene of the film you just know that while some people may be possessed by a demon, no one is going to possess logic. Characters split up, hide in dark places and give vague statements just because fully explaining the situation would resolve it and we wouldn’t have ourselves a movie, and on more than one occasion I rolled my eyes at their decisions.
Despite their characters being unintelligent, every actor in the film turns in a solid performance, with 11-year-old Lulu Wilson, who starred in last year’s “Ouija: Origin of Evil” (the girl just can’t escape horror prequels) doing solid work in a role that requires many scenes alone, reacting to things that probably weren’t actually on set with her.
One of my biggest annoyances with “Creation” (on top of it failing to frighten) is the musical score, which was an issue with director Sandberg’s debut film, “Lights Out.” Every time Sandberg seems to be building tension and tightening the string composer Benjamin Wallfisch makes the score explode, and it either is distracting or insulting because it was the music that scared you, not what was on screen. Sandberg doesn’t trust his audience to pick up on subtle imagery or background cues and apparently never learned from “Jaws” that the scariest thing is what isn’t shown.
The demon design is actually cool, and initially the film’s climax is interesting and entertaining as we finally get some answers about the Annabelle doll and how it got possessed. But the first hour of the film is so uneventful it is almost incredible; I looked at my phone at what I thought was 15 minutes in but was shocked to see we were 40 minutes into the film and nothing of substance had yet to happen.
Like I say in every horror film review I write, you have to take my opinion with a grain of salt because I don’t find them scary, but what is scary is subjective person by person. This is a competently made film, it is shot nice and has some well-lit set pieces, but it’s boring in large chunks and at the end of the day it didn’t scare me, and if we condemn comedies for not being funny then it’s hard to give a passing grade to a scary movie that isn’t scary.
Critics Rating: 4/10