Annabelle Creation: The spirits don’t quite soar
The lack of creativity after the ghostly reveal makes this another predictable horror film
The real antagonist of Annabelle Creation isn’t the evil spirit that slowly takes control of the Mullins residence. You could make a big case for the Mullins themselves being the villains. What else do you call a couple who invite unwitting young orphans to stay at their residence without telling them that they will be sharing the home with one Mr. Demon? The film’s half-baked explanation for why they do so is as unconvincing as the reason why they continue to live in that home in the first place. Some horror films explain away this problem with the ‘where you go, the devil goes’ logic. Annabelle Creation, however, doesn’t care.
Cast: Miranda Otto, Anthony LaPaglia, Talitha Bateman
Director: David Sandberg
The best part of horror films, of average horror films at least, is usually only until the ghost reveals itself, for they all then tend to descend into a dull, explanatory mode. David Sandberg does a great job of creating atmosphere. He uses darkness to chilling effect. The characterisation of Mrs. Mullins as the mysterious madwoman of the house adds greatly to the mood. Throw in a bunch of disobedient teenage girls who are too curious for their own good, and you’ve got quite an effective recipe from which to conjure up one jump scare after another. I liked that some of them even happen in broad daylight, subverting a cardinal rule of horror films that bad things happen only at night. One of the best scares in the film is when a girl, whose back is turned at the camera, speaks in a brittle, meek voice. Then, without warning, she turns around, revealing her ghastly face, as she lets out a guttural bellow. The theatre laughed in nervousness, which is always a great sign in horror films. It usually indicates they are all scared silly.
Much like in the Conjuring films (whose spin-off this film is), there’s a song that runs through the film. There’s even one of those games you’re used to seeing in this franchise. Here, two teenage girls cover themselves in a blanket and tell each other that Mrs Mullins feeds on the living after calling their names. I half-expected a chilling whisper of one of their names, quite like the famous clapping scene in The Conjuring. But none was forthcoming. That, however, wasn’t as big a frustration as Janice (Talitha Bateman), not ever truly revealing with conviction that she met Mr. Demon, and got assaulted. In these films, characters who see the dark spirit always seem to, more or less, forget about it the next day.
Really good horror films are those that know how to sustain themselves after the inevitable possession occurs. In so-so films like Annabelle Creation, this is when the film slips into uninventive territory. The events turn predictable and you just wait around till it’s time to leave the film… which takes quite a while in Annabelle Creation. I got reminded of some of Tamil cinema’s own recent horror films that suffer from the same plight. What poetic irony then, when much like in some of our old films, the cops arrive at the scene just as the whole thing gets over.