“Annabelle: Creation”: A terrifying prequel to a prequel

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When The Conjuring was released in 2013, it was an instant hit and left audiences craving more. Consequently, Annabelle was released in late 2014 (as a prequel to The Conjuring) and a year and a half later, The Conjuring 2 hit theaters. All three were wild successes, earning a combined total of about $324 million. With each new movie, their paranormal cinematic universe grew, and fans couldn’t get enough. Hence Annabelle: Creation, the prequel to a prequel that explores the history behind the possessed doll.

Due to a tragic car accident, dollmaker Samuel Mullins (Anthony LaPaglia) and his wife Esther (Miranda Otto) lose their only daughter Annabelle (Samara Lee). Twelve years later, the couple offer to share their secluded farmhouse with a nun and six orphaned girls. Upon arriving at the old and uncanny property, strange things start happening to disabled orphan, Janice (Talitha Bateman). Before long, Janice and company discover sinister forces at play and suspect there may be more than six young girls in the house.

One of Creations strongest feats is its character portrayals. Every cast member is extremely impressive, despite many of them being of a young age. Bateman is of particular note, as she gives a convincing performance that leaves viewers watching in terror between the cracks of their fingers. Supporting characters––such as Janice’s best friend, Linda (Lulu Wilson), and Sister Charlotte (Stephanie Sigman)––also stand out and add depth to the movie’s plot. Together, each actor makes up a skilled roster that contributes to the film’s quality.

Another accomplishment of the movie is the way in which the surrounding environment is captured. Rotating between the dark interior of the house, it’s bland front yard and the battered inside of a nearby barn, every scene creates a looming feeling of dread that makes for a petrifying experience.

Creation also deserves credit for improving upon its predecessor. As is the case in many modern horror movies, the first Annabelle depended heavily on jump scares to frighten its audience; unfortunately, many of Annabelles attempts fell flat and became a common criticism. Though jump scares are still present, Creation produces more authentic terror by relying on a suspenseful score and scary scenes for viewers to dwell on.

Annabelle: Creation earns an A-. The film has a genuinely frightening plot, the setting and score are chilling and the acting is superb. It does a great job of expanding its paranormal cinematic universe and is a must-see summer blockbuster for horror buffs. It’s preferable to Annabelle and is one of the better scary movies of 2017, but nonetheless joins The Conjuring 2 in falling just short of the horror perfection achieved by The Conjuring.

(Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures)