David Sandberg’s prequel to Annabelle (2014) – as well as being loosely based on James Wan’s The Conjuring a year earlier – tells the story, set several years after a fatal accident that killed their young daughter, of a dollmaker, Samuel Mullins (Anthony LaPaglia), and his wife, Esther (Miranda Otto), and their struggles against a demon that uses one of the dolls as its conduit into the real world. The couple believe that the demon has gone, but the arrival of a group of orphan girls and their nun sister, Sister Charlotte (Stephanie Sigman), unearths the terror all over again.
After a couple of red-herring teases at the start – trying to lay out the origins of the demonic doll – the film eventually clarifies what was a somewhat complicated past detailed in Annabelle and ends with the audience knowing exactly what happened to the doll and the Mullins family. This clarity will go down well with those audiences who could not see past the conflictions in the previous movie, as well as those who are cult followers of “The Conjuring Universe”. It is also refreshing to see a prequel that in fact is better than the original.
The script and its subsequent dialogue is quite dreadful. But it is as if David Sandberg – self-reflexively – plays with the material (and even the horror genre more generally) in a way that allows him to experiment with all forms of cinematic genre tropes, as well as practising (to perfection) the various jumps and scares that this picture must offer. Towards the beginning, the director masterfully plays with ideas of 1950s America and the nuclear family, only to destroy and subvert this nationalistic image by way of abruptly showing Annabelle’s tragic death.
Sandberg seems to have a masterful touch on the horror genre. Working with quite a weak script, he luckily has not tried to improve on it but has used this opportunity to offer his audiences (from Lights Out, as well as followers from previous films in the franchise) a movie that does precisely what it is intended to do: scare.
Annabelle: Creation is released nationwide on 11th August 2017.
Watch the trailer for Annabelle: Creation here: