Annabelle: Creation [Review by SpecialK]
Oh, no thanks, no water for me. This face is purely decoration, really—about as plastered on as Renee Zellweger’s in 2014. That’s a joke. You can laugh, kid.
You know, after starring in two movies, you’d think my third go at this would be easier. But no, the press junket is the hardest part. They set you up in this hotel room—I mean look at this, what is this, polyester? Ugh—and you answer the same questions all day. It’s exhausting. It’s so nice to get a breather between those ridiculous Hollywood reporters who slap on grins that are more artificial than mine, and ask the fluffiest, ditziest of questions—“What’s it like to be the only actor in the film who is also an inanimate object?” or “Do you have elbows?” or “What made you decide to do a nude scene in this film?” Gag.
You wanna know what I really think about Annabelle: Creation? How much time until the next imbecile prances in here? Five minutes? Ok perfect. I’ll tell you. First of all, ask any big star of a horror franchise—from Jamie Lee Curtis to Courteney Cox to Vera Farmiga (who is great to work with, by the way, and who is likely my only competition out there for “best Edwardian high neck collar”)—and they will all tell you that sequels are tough. When my tiny little role in The Conjuring became a starring role in Annabelle, I knew I had to deliver. And deliver I did—that was a great film. Cool 1960s style, great scary scenes, and come on, this creepy face brought it. But still, it was not as scary as its predecessor, and that’s what people remembered. So really in a lot of ways, as the prequel to the prequel, Annabelle: Creation was facing an uphill battle from the get-go.
The plot of the film begins the day my character is carved out of wood on this rural Midwestern farm. Side note: filming the nude scene was totally uneventful, I’m a professional, after all. Tragedy befalls the little girl I belong to, and luckily, I’m there to help bring her back to her beloved parents. Years later, the same parents open up their home to a bunch of orphaned girls and a nun—I mean come on, the perfect landscape for excellent scares, am I right?
One of the kids is played by Talitha Eliana Bateman. I haven’t seen her in anything before, but she’s a pretty solid actor, especially for her age. They even put her character on a crutch, to build suspense I guess, I don’t know. It was a bit too Insidious: Chapter 3 for my taste, honestly.
Anyway, Talitha’s character, Janice, has this other orphaned friend, Linda. Blegh. Let’s just say, Lulu Wilson has learned nothing since her ridiculous overacting in Ouija: Origin of Evil, and truthfully, I think she’d do a lot better if she learned the lesson I did early on and stuck to non-speaking roles. Oh come on, lower those eyebrows, kid, you’ll never survive in this business unless you’re wiling to get a little catty.
So Janice is beckoned into this creepy room that used to belong to the parents’ now-dead daughter, and she finds me locked up in a closet (eerily and beautifully lit, of course). Once I’m out, Janice and Linda start hearing and seeing some bad stuff, and before we know it, a demon is on their heels. Look, I won’t give the full story away, but it’s got all the requisite late-night scares, religious symbolism, and vintage farmhouse accouterments the trailers promise. Plus, they do a great job of tying this film to the others, and you truly see how it all connects. Quite a satisfying little treat, really.
Our beloved director David S. Sandberg—super green, got his start from a fantastic short film and has a knack for horror, but in my view, still has a lot to learn—anyway, he delivers at about the level of his first film, Lights Out. He creates some great scares that have you squinting at the dark corners of the screen, he does some fantastic work with a simple pivot of my neck, and in the end, this is probably a movie that most fans of The Conjuring franchise will see in the theaters and rent again when it’s out on DVD.
But honestly? Much like Lights Out, he tries to do a little too much at once. He probably should have focused on the star (ahem). Instead there’s all this business with the parents, and you’ve got this group of orphaned girls, and also the religious stuff with the nun. Plus there’s a devilish thing lurking around, and a possessed scarecrow too. Oh, and get this—a woman is hidden away in a bedroom wearing the Phantom of the Opera’s mask. It was just a lot to compete with, you know?
And then there are these inconsistencies. There are these dark forces at work that seem to be able to do a lot of physical damage in one scene, but can’t seem to open an unlocked door in another. As an expert at my craft, I notice these details, you see, but I also bet that if the audience lets that stuff go and just enjoys the ride, they’ll have a good time.
Oh and speaking of rides, did you know that you can see this film with that new D-BOX technology? Look, I tried it. Sure, it buzzed my tree-stump-of-a-rump a bit to enhance the jump scares, but the rest of the time, it mostly just rocked me back and forth, following the sweep of the camera. In my opinion? You can save the extra ten bucks or whatever, and skip it.
How much time do I have left? Thirty seconds? Ok, I’ll cut to the chase, since you seem like a nice kid.
SpecialK Verdict: See Annabelle: Creation to scratch that summer scary movie itch—it may not be the most innovative horror film you’ve ever seen, but it’ll deliver well enough. Ok, is my eyeliner sufficiently smudged? Perfect. Send in the clowns.
Annabelle: Creation opened August 11.
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