The demon doll from the Conjuring movies remains creepy, even if this prequel feels occasionally wooden.
While Universal tries to launch its Dark Universe of monsters and Lionsgate prepares an eighth Saw movie, one horror franchise has mushroomed successfully under the radar. This prequel to 2014’s Annabelle—itself a spin-off from The Conjuring—somewhat explains the genesis of the series’ supremely creepy wooden doll.
Anthony LaPaglia plays an improbably prosperous dollmaker in the 1940s, and Miranda Otto his wife—they are the soon-to-be bereaved parents of seven-year-old Bee (Samara Lee). More than a decade later, still devastated, the couple opens its home to a kindly nun, Sister Charlotte (Stephanie Sigman, playing the polar opposite of the scary nun in The Conjuring 2) and six orphaned girls in her care. Quicker than you can say, "Don’t go near that doll," things are going bump in the night and doors are opening and closing on their own: four different doors in the first 30 minutes.
The fourth film in the Conjuring Universe, Annabelle: Creation is well performed, but the rhythm of the scares feels slightly off. Characters scream when they should be quiet and whimper when they should be hollering their heads off. Plus, it blatantly steals the rocking-chair gimmick from The Woman in Black. That said, it is still terrifying—a monster this grotesque will always be unsettling—but director David F. Sandberg sometimes fumbles the slow build. While it’s better than the first Annabelle, it’s nowhere near as good as the main Conjuring films. Better luck next spin-off: The Nun is on its way next year.
Cast and crew