Everyone’s favorite conduit is back and she is more malicious than ever in this highly anticipated origin story of how Annabelle came into existence. While John R. Leonetti’s 2014 Conjuring spinoff, Annabelle, received mixed reviews and a 29% rating on Rottentomatoes, David F. Sandberg’s prequel follow-up, Annabelle: Creation, was the weekend’s horror highlight opening up a whole new level of depth to the franchise. Already earning 7.3 out of 10 stars on IMDb and 68% on Rottentomatoes, this prequel offers a story of substance, plenty of well-placed jump scares and unexpected ties to The Conjuring universe.
Several years after the death of their little girl, Samuel Mullins (Anthony LaPaglia, So I Married an Axe Murderer, Empire Records) and his wife Esther (Miranda Otto, War of the Worlds, I, Frankenstein) welcome a nun and several orphan girls into their home. The sound of life returns to the Mullins’ household but is short lived when an evil is inadvertently released targeting the soul of a young girl named Janice (Tabitha Bateman, The 5th Wave). As the inhuman spirit attached to the Annabelle doll grows stronger, no one is safe from an unforgiving evil that reigns down terror on the unsuspecting orphans.
Opening with the Mullins’ family living a simple and happy life, the story draws you in with the death of Bee Mullins (Samara Lee, Concussion, Foxcatcher). Several years later, Samuel and Esther attempt to put some good into the universe while bringing life back into their home with the arrival of Sister Charlotte (Stephanie Sigman, Spectre) and her orphans. With outstanding performances by LaPaglia and Otto, it is clear that the married couple is still grieving the loss of their daughter. As the melodrama maintains your attention, mystery and suspense begin to gradually build as odd things begin occurring throughout the house. Sparking the curiosity of Janice, the little girl investigating the strange happenings around the large house finding more than what she bargained for.
With your attention engulfed in the characters and suspense so thick it could be cut with a knife, jump scares gradually take place as the plot escalates at a steady pace. As your pulse quickens, outstanding visual effects add to the creep factor. This is topped off with a few surprisingly gruesome scenes that add to the terror filled plot without detracting from the story.
While the film is a great standalone piece, fans of the franchise will see many familiarities that allude to strong ties to The Conjuring, Annabelle, The Conjuring 2 and the upcoming spinoff, The Nun. While nothing is confirmed, it appears that the series may track relationship ties between many or all of the villains featured in The Conjuring franchise.
While sitting on the edge of your seat watching the beginning of a much bigger Conjuring universe unfold, true horror buffs should keep a look out for a special easter egg that gives a nod to the “true story” behind the Annabelle doll. While many strong hints of what is to come within the Conjuring franchise can be found spaced throughout the film, fans are encouraged to stay for a mid-credit and a post-credit scene. It appears that the frights of what goes bump in the night are barely getting started. See Annabelle: Creation in theatres now.