2014’s “Annabelle” should have been an easy win. Take one of the most frightening elements from 2012’s “The Conjuring” and give her her own spooky tale about where she comes from and you have another hit. Sadly, “Annabelle” was an ill conceived and silly movie that is given a second chance with another prequel “Creation.” This film goes even further back before “The Conjuring” to where the doll was merely a dormant spirit lying and waiting for fresh souls to exploit.
Set before the original movie we meet Sam and Esther, both of whom raise their daughter Annabelle. Sam is a toy maker whose dolls are in high demand, but tragedy strikes when Annabelle is suddenly hit by a passing car. Years later, a local orphanage ships six of their girls and maternal Sister Charlotte to Sam and Esther’s house, which is now being converted in to a temporary home for the group. Things seem pretty serene until polio stricken girl Janice uncovers hidden portions of the house which hold the toys and mementos of Annabelle. Accidentally she awakens something sinister which begins to terrorize the girls and takes a special interest in her.
David Sanberg is the perfect director to bring the terror out of the Annabelle tale, as he’s a master of devising spooky ghost tales. Most of all, he’s very good about the use of light and darkness, and playing with our perceptions of sight and sound. There’s even a really good use of flickering light bulbs in a barn that allows for one of the many really startling moments of building terror. We’re never quite sure what it is that’s terrorizing these characters, but we do know that “Creation” practices the classic trope of evil taking advantage of the grieving. Sanberg pulls great performances from a surprisingly very good cast, including Miranda Otto, Anthony LaPaglia and Stephanie Sigman.
The stand outs though are Talitha Bateman and Lulu Wilson, both of whom possess an engaging chemistry that makes the film infinitely more entertaining thanks to their ability to react and emote well. I hope we can see more from the pair in the future. For fans “Creation” is a great patching up of the misfire that was “Annabelle” and creatively builds the world of “The Conjuring” while unraveling a very strong, spooky, and human horror tale.