Remember that hideous doll from The Conjuring? The one that wreaked havoc in perfectly decent homes by stealing the souls of people? Well, after landing a starring role in its own spin-off movie, 2014’s Annabelle, we now get a prequel in Annabelle: Creation which tells the origin story of that grotesque toy, how it became such a formidable force of evil.
Somewhere in rural America in the 1940s, a doll-maker, the creator of that bug-eyed specimen, loses his young daughter in a road accident. Twelve years later, he and his bedridden wife open their home to six girls from a Catholic orphanage and their accompanying nun. While exploring their new home, one of the girls enters a locked room and stumbles upon – you guessed it – that ratty Victorian doll.
Now it’s not a half bad premise and there are some good jump scares. But there isn’t a smidgen of novelty or inventiveness in this movie; it trades in the same old clichés and lazy ideas. So before you know it, lights begins to flicker, a record player mysteriously starts playing a tune on its own, and shadowy figures jump out of the dark. To be fair, Lights Out director David F Sandberg has an assured visual style that builds up an atmosphere of dread. But there is neither an interesting story nor particularly compelling characters.
That’s a shame because the acting isn’t bad. Veterans Anthony LaPaglia and Miranda Otto bring a palpable sense of melancholy and impending doom to their roles as the couple that owns the creepy gothic home, and the girls playing the orphans pitch in with competent performances. It’s just that they’re put through the motions in the sort of film that you’ve seen so many times before.
I know that it’s part of the very conceit of horror films, but I’m getting a little tired of having to care for characters that do the stupidest things in the face of danger. Why would you go into an isolated barn? Why would you leave a group and head off on your own? Why would you leave a disabled girl to sleep alone in a room when it’s clear that things aren’t alright in the house?
If you can overlook these nigglings, perhaps you’ll enjoy all the times this movie jolts you out of your seat. I’m going with two-and-a-half out of five for Annabelle: Creation. It’s not bad, it’s just same old, same old.
Rating: 2.5 / 5