Tuesday, August 22, 2017


James Wan’s The Conjuring films are two of my favorite horror movies of the last decade.  So, when the first Annabelle film was announced, I was understandably excited.  However, disappointment set in as I watched that lackluster film.  To put it bluntly, it was terrible, which made the news of an Annabelle sequel one of concern.  But then I heard that it was going to be a prequel.

Now, most people would argue that prequels don’t usually live up to the original (ie. the Star Wars prequels, the Hobbit trilogy), and I would normally agree, but on occasion they can surprise you.  This recently happened with another horror franchise, Ouija.  The first film was just horrendous, and almost caused me not to watch the second one, Ouija: Origin of Evil, both of which I finally saw just a few months ago.  But good word of mouth and a director I truly like, pushed me to take the chance, and I’m glad I did.  I really enjoyed the Ouija prequel, so much so that it began to heighten my excitement for Annabelle: Creation.

Just like Ouija: Origin of Evil, the word of mouth for Annabelle: Creation was pretty positive from the horror sources I trust, and its director was one that I was excited about.  So, when I finally went to watch this film, my anticipation level was decently high.  And thankfully for this horror fan, I was not disappointed at all.  It felt like it fit perfectly into this universe, and even linked itself to a previous, and an upcoming, film in the franchise, which I’ll talk a bit more about later.  For those of you not wanting to be spoiled, this is your warning.  The spoiler-free portion of this review will end here.  Just know, I really enjoyed this film, so go see it.


Ok, so let’s get into the film!  One of the things I’ve enjoyed about the Ouija and Annabelle prequels is that the time period really helped to create a potently creepy atmosphere.  You get a creepy old house, a creepy old doll, and it lacks something that usually creates plot holes in horror films, modern technology.  This film technically spans the course of 24 years, but the main arc of the story takes place square in the center of that.  We start with the Mullins family in 1943.  The father, Samuel, is a doll maker.  So from here we are seeing the true origin of the Annabelle doll.  Samuel has a wife and a daughter, Esther and Bee, and they seem like a very happy family.  Their interactions with one another reminded me a lot of my own family.  I could see my wife and daughter and I all playing with each other the way the Mullins did.  This was a major connecting point for me, and made what happened next that much more impactful.

A horrific accident took the life of their child, and then we spring forward 12 years to 1955.  This time jump surprised me.  I assumed we would be spending the film with Samuel and Esther being hunted by their dead daughter, or at least what they thought would be their dead daughter, but director David F. Sandberg (Lights Out) decided to go a different, much more interesting route, and that is probably what made the film as good as it was.

This is where we spend the majority of the film.  We follow a group of orphans and their residing nun, Sister Charlotte, who are invited to use the Mullins' home as their new orphanage by none other than Mr. and Mrs. Mullins themselves.  I was surprised to actually see them again.  I assumed they would have died in that house long ago, but again, the filmmakers threw us another twist.  It’s obvious, from the first time we see Samuel after the girls arrive, that he is different.  You could definitely attribute that to a still grieving father, but something else is obviously going on.  We learn rather quickly that Esther suffered some sort of undisclosed accident, and is bedridden.  This helped to up the creep factor of the already creepy events taking place.

Annabelle: Creation is filled with creepy tension and well done scares, most of which aren’t even jump scares.  And that is one of the things that made this film as good as it was.  It didn’t just rely on the shock value of a jump scare.  It built tension with creepy imagery that kept you on the edge.  Whether it was a blurred image of a figure approaching, or the way the camera lingered on that doll for just a second or two too long, the filmmakers knew just how to get under the audience’s skin.  And they successfully pulled of a daytime scare, which is rare in horror.

From the ghostly visage of the Mullins' daughter, who we learn is actually named Annabelle, to the demon that is tormenting these people, there is so much haunting imagery that kept me freaked out for most of the film.  I was never once bored.  I never thought to myself “this is ridiculous”, it hooked me from the very beginning, all the way to the end.  And speaking of the end, I absolutely loved how well it tied into the original Annabelle, despite my feelings on that film as a whole.  It also linked itself to The Conjuring films, specifically The Conjuring 2.  Sister Charlotte is talking to Samuel about her time at a monastery in Romania, showing him a picture of her with some fellow nuns.  This is when Samuel asks about a nun she didn’t name, but when he points to the picture, there’s no one there…until he shifts the image.  That’s when we see it…the image of Valek, the demon nun that haunted Lorraine Warren in The Conjuring 2, and the subject of an upcoming spinoff film.  It was the perfect way to link it back to the main films and also tease an upcoming spinoff.  The Nun isn’t seen again or even mentioned…until the end credit scene where we see her looming in a dark hallway at the monastery in Romania.  I'm really hoping that this spinoff will live up to The Conjuring franchise.

Oh, and before I finish up, I wanted to mention how cool it was to see them incorporate a Raggedy Ann doll into the film, because, for those of you that don't know, the actual Annabelle doll was a Raggedy Ann and currently resides in a glass box at The Warrens' Occult Museum in Monroe, Connecticut.

So, all-in-all, this was a very well done horror film, and a welcome addition to the world of The Conjuring.  If you love horror, and The Conjuring films, then don’t shy away from this film.  It’s definitely a must see!

The Merc's Score: 8.5/10

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