Annabelle: Creation – 3/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

Annabelle: Creation – 3/5 –  When you go to the theater, you are there for an experience.  It is in that experience that strikes an emotional chord.  No matter the genre, at the heart of the tale is to generate a feeling.  When it comes to horror, it is supposed to scare you.  Through technique, story or characterized approach, you are supposed to feel fear.  With this new addition to The Conjuring universe, Annabelle: Creation provides a lot of the common scares.  Even with an amount of predictable behavior, there is enough tension for something entertaining.  Annabelle: Creation might not be a game changer, but it does enough for an average horror experience.

Premise: It is the beginning of the doll Annabelle, where a tragic accident leads to an demonic outcome.

For a list of the actors/actresses, please go to the film’s IMDb page.  Being an ensemble cast, the characters created in the script are what you would expect from a horror film.  What you get is a ‘window’ into the world where Annabelle was created, and the people that were involved in that creation.  Being a prequel, the actors/actresses do enough as ‘points of reference’ to the ‘who, what and why’ questions of the backstory.  From the group of orphan girls, the Nun and the couple that resides in the country home, you feel some purpose to their dynamic to Annabelle.  No matter how much effort is put in, they still are somewhat monotone when interacting with each other.  Each of them have that common one-note complex, only providing casual conversation with no expositional value.  Even if there are no signs of character development, it is the situational approach that push them past the common archetypes.  When the characters have confrontations with certain aspect of horror, it is different, unpredictable and entertaining.  This oddity pushes them past the approach of ‘dumb’ horror methods, providing some intellect in how some characters survive the ordeal.

The direction goes on a linear path with a script that lacks any development.  Being a ‘prequel’, the preface is to create a backstory for an already set timeline.  In this case, the story surrounds a doll named Annabelle, and how it was created.  That centerpiece is only used in the prologue, where we are introduced to the couple and how they deal with a tragic accident.  From this, we are lead into the ‘present day’ of the story.  As the starting point, you are introduced to the next set of characters as they show up at the couple’s home.  Once everything is set into place, the film turns into a ‘compilation’ of the different fear tactics that have been used in many other horror films.  With only a linear path, it turns into a predictable ‘Are you afraid’ rhetorical wheel, where there is no motive for the characters but to survive.  What you get in the first two acts is a generic outline of the genre:

Character is faced with (plot device) > Eerie music/atmospheric detail > Scare tactic initiated > frantic behavior > a predictable ‘escape’ outcome.

No matter who the characters are, you see each path is telegraph, where the demon is coming and what will be the ultimate outcome.  This simple approach does pull the film down, but it doesn’t complete kill the experience.  What ultimately keeps you focused is the atmospheric detail around the characters.  Melding simplicity around who are being terrorized provides an aesthetic that is straight forward.  It doesn’t reinvent the wheel, it only provides you with the same old stuff in a slightly different setting.  What you eventually realize is that the director is trying to create a fun horror experience through its own dynamic (Annabelle Doll).  Once you get past all the repetitiveness, you head into a third act where there are no rules to follow.  Every horror element is thrown into a basket where characters are trapped in a whirlwind of survival.  Through all the clichés, jump scares, gloomy situations and unexpected twists; it is the choices made by certain characters that provide a height of truth in the climax.  Doing things that are unexpected creates a genuine ending.  Even though the epilogue provides a connection to the other films, it is the capsulation of the ride that provides closure.

The cinematography is amazing.  From the grounded focus of an old country home, you get a genuine feeling of the situation.  From this, the rest of the visuals are appeasing through the open spaces, dark lighting and brooding surroundings.  That onward focus on ‘characters’ and ‘prop interactions’ provides a compliment to the atmosphere.  Even if the visuals are copycats of every other horror film, it is the ambiguous use of lighting, props and CGI enhancements that provide something eerily fun.  The score adds that fear-like depth through sound.  Even if it is common ‘loud’ instruments and echoing techniques, it adds something to a basic horror tale.

Annabelle: Creation is what you would expect in a horror film.  With a lot of rehashing of the same old techniques, it does not stray too far from the formula.  Even if there are a lot of jump scares, creepy objects and terrifying moments; it is the character choices and the general focus on ‘one’ thing that keeps you entertained.  If you’re a fan of this series, I say check it out at the theaters.  This is at least worth a matinee for the rest of the film goers out there.

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