June 10, 2018

Annabelle: Creation (2017)
Grade: 53/100

Director: David F. Sandberg
Stars: Talitha Bateman, Lulu Wilson, Stephanie Sigman

What it's about. Set in farm country America, circa 1950. Samuel Mullins (Anthony LaPaglia) is a gloomy middle-aged man who acts as a caregiver to his crippled wife Esther (Miranda Ott). They allow an attractive young nun, Sister Charlotte (Stephanie Sigman), to live in their house, along with six orphans: hottie young adult Carol (Grace Fulton), older teen Nancy (Philippa Coulthard), and preteenagers Kate (Tayler Buck), Tierney (Lou Lou Safran), Janice (Talitha Bateman), and Linda (Lulu Wilson). Janice hobbles on crutches due to a past encounter with polio. Linda is closest to Janice, and both are excluded by the other four girls.

Janice is soon tormented by a demon associated with a creepy Annabelle doll. The demon occasionally takes the form of the Mullins' ten-ish daughter, who died in a tragic accident years before. Eventually, Janice is possessed by the demon, and seeks to murder everyone in the household.

How others will see it. The Annabelle and Conjuring horror franchises are loosely related. They are commercial successes, are regarded as well made, and have received lukewarm to positive reviews from critics. Annabelle: Creation (also known as Annabelle II: Creation won Best Horror Film at the Saturn Awards.

At imdb.com, the movie has a respectable 70K user votes and a reasonable 6.6 (out of 10) user rating. Women like the movie slightly more than do men, and younger audiences see the film more favorably than older viewers.

The user reviews are surprisingly contemptuous, deriding the illogic, random, and generic qualities of the horror scenes. It is true, though, an equal number praise the movie as better than Annabelle.

For those confused by the timeline (and actually care), Annabelle: Creation is a prequel of Annabelle, which in turn is the prequel of The Conjuring. Thus, the timeline is Annabelle: Creation, Annabelle, The Conjuring, and The Conjuring 2. The Nun (2018) apparently precedes all four movies.

How I felt about it. There isn't much logic to the horror. Vulnerable young women and girls live together in a house and are increasingly terrorized by a demon. This is like so many other haunted house movies, but it must be admitted that the casting, writing, acting, and directing is fairly good. It's not the setup, but the denouement of the horror that no one buys.

One wonders what it is that the demon wants. Apparently, to possess a preteenaged girl, to kill middle-aged adults, and terrorize other girls. In other words, its purpose is strictly cinematic. It does whatever the director wants, in an attempt to scare the viewer.

If you accept that the demon's actions and powers are inconsistent, does that make the film any better? Yes, because the production values are good. The producers know they have a money-making machine, and they know that one lousy movie would wreck the franchise.

Thus, there are some adorable bonding moments between "out" girls Janice and Linda, and Carol has an entertaining scene where she accuses the scarecrow of saying something lewd. Whether these snippets of quality are worth two hours of your life is up to the viewer.