A prequel to the prequel & spin-off of The Conjuring, “Annabelle: Creation” is an unexpected surprise, for it is a welcome improvement over its lifeless predecessor that delivers the chills in heavy doses once the board is set, and is closer in tone & old-school vibe to the first two chapters of the main series.
The fourth instalment in The Conjuring Universe that’s set before the events that unfold in Annabelle, the story of Annabelle: Creation follows a group of orphaned girls who find a new shelter in a house owned by a dollmaker & his wife. But their arrival only awakens an evil force that wrecked havoc on the couple years ago.
Directed by David F. Sandberg, the film is his sophomore effort after Lights Out but shares many similarities with his debut feature. As before, Sandberg relies on jump scares, loud score & sudden sound along with other genre tropes to provide the promised thrills and although predictable, it’s still effective & gets the job done.
Unlike the previous entry, Annabelle: Creation actually has an uneasy atmosphere, a foreboding tone & few good surprises in store. Camera makes apt use of silence & darkness to amp its chilling aura. The plot isn’t always engaging but it is swiftly paced & finely edited. The eponymous doll retains its creepiness but the shadowy figure is only effective in bits n pieces.
While majority of characters are one-dimensional, the two little girls who are the centre of the narrative manage to pique the interest and are brilliantly played by Talitha Bateman & Lulu Wilson, not to mention that their sister-like chemistry is believable and their individual performance is no slouch either. The rest of the cast doesn’t impress much but their input is still serviceable.
On an overall scale, Annabelle: Creation achieves what it set out to do and offers a cinematic experience that most viewers would find far more satisfying than what Annabelle had in store for them. It isn’t always successful in deriving horror from its ambience and often resorts to clichéd elements but the director utilizes them all in terrific fashion to startle the audience on more occasions than once. In short, what it lacks in plot & characterization, it makes up in sudden shocks & screams. Definitely worth a shot.