‘ANNABELLE: CREATION’ Review
2014’s Annabelle, which served as the prequel to The Conjuring, was a film that underwhelmed. Quite frankly, it felt like not only a cash grab benefiting on the success of The Conjuring but it didn’t even come close to any of the bars which were raised by James Wan’s film. In fact, the only successful scene in Annabelle was the basement sequence, which James Wan directed. Was it a case of acting too quickly or possibly giving the heavy reins to someone with weak hands? Annabelle: Creation was handed over to newcomer David F. Sandberg who directed 2016’s Lights Out, which seemed to be a success for Warner Bros. Annabelle: Creation is a prequel (the title should have told you that) to Annabelle and, to note, is the first film being advertised as a film in “The Conjuring universe” (more on that later).
Much like James Wan, Sandberg seems to elevate Annabelle: Creation to a level that is above Gary Dauberman’s (writer of Annabelle) script, which seems to disregard the evolution of characters in the horror genre. While the structure is repetitive and nothing new, Sandberg is the one who saves the day by pulling genuine, effective scares, albeit silly at times. While the script does give us a mainly female cast of a young nun and orphans and obscures some of the masculinity down that was so painful in Annabelle, the actors pull the characters off the page. Talitha Bateman plays one of our main characters and her performance feels mature and nuanced. Her relationship with her sister feels authentic which makes the final act more potent when our characters are in danger. While Sandberg may ultimately be the reason that this film succeeds, Cinematographer Maxime Alexandre’s (High Tension and other Alexandre Aja projects) composition and overall look of the film excels by delivering us back to warm palette to harken us to the southern-gothic, farmhouse terror that serves as a visual reminder and tribute to the genre – again, combating some of the staleness of the script. Alexandre’s use of shadows and negative space constructs some great set-pieces and keeps the audience on their toes.
Considering the success of both Conjuring films, Warner Bros is looking to expand the universe – since that seems to be the thing nowadays. While I like the fact of having a connective universe in the horror genre, I’m not sure this will turn out as successful as they hope. We already know that The Nun is happening via a nod in the film and in a post-credits stinger. There are already talks of Conjuring 2‘s The Crooked Man and, if successful, Warner may raid the room of the Warrens and pick out other characters to build whatever universe they are wanting. My guess, we’ll be done with this whole “universe” thing after The Nun is released.
While Annabelle: Creation is miles above the film it is following (or preceding if you are thinking about it timeline-wise), at the end of the day you’ll walk away feeling like you got your money’s worth but nothing you might be ranting about to your nearest fiends.
Better direction than its predecessor.
Silly at times.
Weak script & characters.