The Foundation is Laid in Annabelle: Creation

23 Aug

By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)

Hollywood loves their origin movies. No franchise can be considered complete unless the first film sets up everything required for later films to follow. I consider some works refreshing when that story is told later. When Annabelle: Creation is part of the Conjuring universe, to understand the terror requires waiting for all the pieces to come together. The Warrens (a paranormal investigative couple) were never vital even though they are the heroes of sorts in the core films. Paranormal enthusiasts like me want to know more about the mysterious demon nun bothering the Warrens and the entity said to live in the doll.

This movie remotely references one fact, if the claims by Ed and Lorraine Warren is to be believed. The porcelain figure is inhabited by the soul of Annabelle Higgins. Just why she is malicious might be because this girl is troubled. When you’re trapped for eternity in an object, perhaps as a result of a binding spell (accidental or not) and you are not allowed to move into the light, I would be fairly pissed off too.

This movie is a beautiful look into an era rarely besieged by supernatural terror. Set somewhere in rural California in the 50’s with very little technology to rely on to save anyone from the beyond, the isolation is much worse. When a group of children and Sister Charlotte (Stephanie Sigman), their caregiver, get displaced because the convent they stayed in was shut down, the only shelter they can find is with a couple (The Mullins) with no children of their own. The two were once a happy family, but they lost their daughter when a speeding vehicle hit her.


Just how this introduction figures into this tale about a doll is very indirect. At first, this movie moves down a very standard haunted house regime, and the details they uncover show the creepy looking marionette is the cause. Writer Gary Dauberman returns to pen this prequel and this story is far better than the first one (see my review on the first film here). This movie relies on all the tropes associated with a haunted house and possessed toy scenario to creep audiences out.

I love the rural setting because the terror which can happen is much worse. The effective use of lighting added to the atmosphere and tension. Strangely, there were moments where I thought this movie wanted to travel down a similar vein as a few cinematic adaptations of Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House and I was waiting to relish in it. But once when Dauberman added the prerequisite bits from the Conjuring franchise into this film, the world is not as perfect. The tease with the mysterious nun and possible appearance of Bathsheba Sherman left me confused. I am curious as to why a random demon took interest in Samuel Mullins (Anthony LaPaglia) and his wife’s plight. They must have done something else to draw this entity’s attention. They may have became Disciples of the Ram and were making offerings in hopes to bring their daughter back to life. I also do not believe they invited these refugees to their home for the right reasons.

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When Janice (Talitha Bateman) has polio and her BFF Linda (Lulu Wilson) is the pillar of resilience, perhaps the Mullins were looking for a vassal. When considering how the first film in this sub-series showed how the doll became possessed, this idea is not too far-fetched. At the same time, these two are the victims whom Annabelle aka The Entity take an interest in the most.

The rest of the cast are throwaways. They serve very little function other than to be scream queens. Although Sister Charlotte (Stephanie Sigman) tries to keep order, her prayers seemingly go unanswered. At least this film is less preachy and more concerned on being a period piece. The set design is wonderful to look at. The best part of this movie is when a certain moment feels very non-traditional. To say what that is will constitute a major spoiler. This movie entertains as a cheap Tuesday night at the movies.

In terms of viewing order, I’m fairly certain the following is the sequence these films will run: The Nun (upcoming), Annabelle: Creation, Annabelle, The Crooked Man (in development), The Conjuring and The Conjuring 2.

3 Stars out of 5

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