HOLLYWOOD—Ever since “The Conjuring” was released back in 2013, all anyone could talk about was that creepy looking doll that made its debut in the beginning of the movie. That doll is known as: Annabelle. Since that flick, we saw the doll get it’s on spin-off, “Annabelle” and now we have a prequel in “Annabelle: Creation.” The one factor that made the idea of a possessed doll remaining so scary was not knowing the backstory behind the madness that had been unleashed.
Well, for those wondering just what led to that creepy doll being the catalyst for all things horror, “Creation” shares that backstory. The movie takes place in the 1950s, after Samuel Mullins (Anthony LaPaglia) and Esther Mullins (Miranda Otto) open the door of their home to Sister Charlotte (Stephanie Sigman) and six girls who become homeless after their orphanage closes. Twelve years prior, the audience discovers that the Mullins’ daughter, Annabelle was fatally struck by a car and an unknown spirit convinced the parents to place her spirit into one of Samuel’s dolls.
The decision was a grave mistake and attempt to lock up the doll inside the home to ensure it’s never released. What works for “Annabelle: Creation” even though we finally get the backstory about how the doll came to be is that there are effective scares. Unlike most horror that attempts to build suspense, but fail horrible on the delivery, this movie does not. The timing of the scares are mapped with precision and it’s not the usual someone is behind me or a cat jumps out of nowhere.
The scares are carefully crafted, and end up delivering the jolt or surprise the audience has come to expect, there are even several moments where the thrills catch one off-guard,. Another element that helps the narrative in the realm of terror is a large focus of the madness involves children. I’m a firm believer that in the world of horror, when you toss in children into the mix it amplifies the level of fear and anguish; audiences never want to see harm to children.
The loss of innocence disturbs many, so to see children fighting an unknown spirit and doing all in their power to survive just sutures the audience more to the tale being told. The one caveat in the film is that it takes all the mystery out of the unknown by revealing all the dirty details about Annabelle’s past; now that we know how the doll came to be, what once made the doll so creepy loses a bit of its prowess.
This is a common troupe in horror; there is always that need to WANT to tell the entire story or tie up the loose ends. As a result it takes the steam out of characters, the villain and the narrative. You can tell an origin tale without giving away all of the juicy details, but doing so it leaves a bit of secrecy for the audience to salivate on. “Annabelle: Creation” is full of thrills galore, but with this installment, I know wonder where the franchise can go next in its mission to conjure up scares.