The awkwardly named Annabelle: Creation is a prequel to a spinoff of the relatively popular 2013 horror movie The Conjuring. And if that doesn’t quite make sense, or you have no idea what The Conjuring is, don’t worry too much; it’s not that important to know before seeing Annabelle: Creation.
Although, if you haven’t seen the earlier movies, I feel I have to warn you that the ending to this one will seem like complete nonsense, as will the requisite post-credits sequence that follows.
What really matters is that Annabelle: Creation lives up or down to your expectations, whatever those may be going in. And for a while, that’s kind of fun. It’s the story of a creepy possessed doll, and how it became possessed, and the first half or so understands the expectations of someone seeing the movie and plays with those, with tons of shots down dark hallways or into dark rooms, with bumps in the night and mysterious locked doors. We follow a group of orphaned girls moving in with a new family of caretakers, into a house that’s probably haunted by the dead daughter of the family. One of the girls comes upon the bedroom of the dead girl, finds her doll, Annabelle, in a locked closet, and then all manner of spookiness ensues.
This is all at least moderately satisfying, but then the second half of the movie comes. And strangely, it also is playing exactly to our expectations, knowing that anyone seeing the movie on purpose is likely expecting plenty of demon possession, and screams, and blood and gore. But if the movie had me for a little while, this is definitely where it lost me. For the first half, we’re at least teased with the dread of what might be around the corner or behind the door, in the way good scary movies tantalize us without shoving their scares right in our faces. And then, it shoves those scares right in our faces. It stops being fun and starts dwelling on pain, like too many other supposed horror movies these days.
But for all I know, this is exactly what fans of this series want to see. For me, we could have wrapped things up an hour in and I would have been just fine.