Uncanny Valley of the Doll
Cast: Talitha Bateman, Anthony LaPaglia, Miranda Otto, Lulu Wilson, Stephanie Sigman, Samara Lee
Director: David F. Sandberg
Synopsis: Several years after the tragic death of their little girl, a dollmaker and his wife welcome a nun and several girls from a shuttered orphanage into their home, soon becoming the target of the dollmaker’s possessed creation, Annabelle.
Punisher – writer, podcast personality
I was never too big on the first movie, but I saw this one. Now I see how everything comes together and I understand the other movie better.
Uncle Willy and I saw the private screening of this film, and we agree that it’s a good movie. Not the best but good enough to where the story makes perfect sense and ties in better with the Conjuring franchise.
This movie doesn’t really tell you the date, but if I had to guess I would say some time in the 50’s and we are introduced to Sam, Esther, and Annabelle “Bee” Mullin (Anthony LaPaglia, Miranda Otto, and Samara Lee). Sam was a toy maker, and we see him creating the infamous doll for this movie. After a horrific accident claims the life of Bee, we catch up with Mr. Mullins 12 years later. A bus with 6 orphan girls and their guardian, Sister Charlotte (Stephanie Sigman), are heading to the Mullins residents, which has been turned into an orphanage. It’s there where the fun begins.
The jump scares are whatever to me. Some characters in this movie were annoying at times, and some were anonymous to the point where you would hardly remember them. The main character has polio and a name I can’t remember, so I called her the polio girl (Ed. note: the character’s name was Janice, the actress’s name is Talitha Bateman, and you, sir, are going to hell first class! I’ll see you there.) The rest of the characters were nothing to remember except Sam and Annabelle.
There were some moments where I did not expect things to happen the way they did. I enjoyed the movie also love the nod to the original Annabelle doll. You are going to run into some Easter eggs, and by some, I would have to say two big ones and a couple more subtle ones. Make sure to stay to the end to see the mid and post credit scenes for the biggest one.
Uncle Willy – writer, editor-in-chief, podcast personality
2014 was a rough year for fans of horror thrillers. That was the year Annabelle and Ouija ruined movie nights everywhere. Last year, Ouija: Origin of Evil released and completely atoned for the miserable shitstorm that was Ouija. With Annabelle: Creation, director David F. Sandberg did the exact same thing for Annabelle. In fact, this pre-prequel actually made the 2014 prequel slightly better. But only slightly.
Sandberg doesn’t have many major movie credits on his resume, but he does have one notable one: Lights Out. That movie was notable for the eerie tension that the movie built up. His penchant for building tension and creeping moviegoers out is present in Annabelle: Creation. The first act is mainly world-building, and things start out slow as characters and objects are established. Once the second act gets going, the tension builds quickly and doesn’t let up.
Quick note: if you haven’t seen the trailer for the movie, don’t watch it. It might spoil some of the tenser parts of the second act. You have been warned.
Once things get going, they go hard. Jump scares are actually very light. Most of the frights are delivered without having to resort to cheap jump scares. In fact, when the tension builds up the lack of a jump scare often leaves you more on edge. That’s something this movie got right for the most part. It builds up the creepiness then kind of leaves you hanging for a few extra beats before delivering.
All of the scares are woven into the story, which is pretty well handled. Unlike the 2014 prequel, there is clear exposition here. The reason for the demonic possession of the doll is explained well and makes sense. Everything that happens is tied in well and doesn’t seem forced. The movie is also in keeping with the lore of the Conjuring movies; subtle hints are dropped here and there. To mention any of them would be spoiling the fun.
I’ve never really gotten over just how absolutely sinister the Annabelle doll is. I don’t have a fear of dolls, but even I have trouble staring at that demonic thing. Of course, she’s the linchpin of the franchise, but the original prequel didn’t do a good enough job of selling her evil. This movie does. Her origin is properly explained at last. And the scenes where she figures prominently genuinely creeped me out. I was never truly scared, but I had a lingering uneasiness every time she was in the frame.
Despite all that, there are a few glaring faults in the movie. Some of the interactions between friends Janice and Linda (Lulu Wilson) seem forced, and the general stupidity typical in horror movies is present. When Sister Charlotte and some girls come across the body of someone who died gruesomely, they don’t immediately leave. They stick around. This happens at other points in the movie. Yes, they have to stay if the movie is gonna conclude with any real satisfaction, but I call bullshit. The average person would’ve left skid marks on their way out!
The typical trap of seeing things coming ahead of time also plagues a couple of parts of the movie. Horror vets will see certain things and figure out what’s gonna happen. There are a few clever twists, though, including one that ties into the 2014 movie. There’s also some derivative stuff present. One particular scene reminded me of the Evil Dead remake. Thankfully, none of it is too off-putting.
For fans of horror thrillers, Annabelle: Creation is an entertaining film. The scares aren’t cheap or gimmicky, and the payoff at the end is pretty satisfying. This movie doesn’t erase the travesty that was the 2014 movie, but it ties into it well enough that I can tolerate it more. I still can’t forgive Annabelle, though; it’s still a shitstorm. Annabelle: Creation has its faults, but the end result is not a shitstorm.
Good: Genuine creepiness; the Annabelle doll is creepier still; well-woven story; one nicely done twist
Bad: Some forced acting; a few predictable scenes; typical victim stupidity