Rated R, because it felt like it had to be. Is it weird, Annabelle: Creation, to be peer pressured into an R-Rating? Don't let those Conjuring movies boss you around. You be whatever rating you be. Oh, you feel like it's deserved? Fine. You be R. You are pretty gross at times.
DIRECTOR: David F. Sandberg
I knew it! I knew that this franchise had to drop the ball real hard sooner or later. This is the one that did it! It's one of the doll movies! I told you that it was really hard to make a doll movie work! I read on IMDB that director David F. Sandberg didn't want to make a sequel to a franchise because he hates being beholden to the world established. It was only after he was given free reign to make the movie free of many of the references that he agreed. You know what that means? He's a snob. He lies to himself and sleeps on a bed of money that convinced him that he was an artist. This movie is such garbage and I laugh at his delusions. This movie is super beholden to the previous movies and even pretending that it is what the franchise needed is just pure dumb.
There is a tone to the other movies. I was talking about how that tone needed to be tweaked. That doesn't mean that any tone would necessarily work, however. This is an example of how the tone is so totally off from what this franchise needed. I don't mind setting a horror movie in this setting. It's a prequel to a prequel, so the Inception level of understanding has to be taken into account. It's odd that this movie even exists because I thought the first Annabelle movie really covered the origin story pretty closely. Many of the problems is that this movie wants to give the Annabelle doll even more weight than it should have. It is grafting an origin story to an already established origin story. The movie never really goes full-on retcon. (Full-On Retcon is a great name for a band.) But the first film doesn't really plan for this movie. I'm not saying that the movie should have teased more hints that this movie existed. I already complained about that cinematic universe problem in The Conjuring 2 review I did. But it has the problem that many other "important" prequels has: Why did no one mention this before? The events of this story seem like they should be important. There are a lot of witnesses to the doll murdering a bunch of folks. Shouldn't that be brought up in the research section of Annabelle? Yeah, there's a suspension of disbelief. But the bigger, overarching problem is that this story is really not needed. It just comes across as forced. On top of that, considering artiste David F. Sandberg wanted to separate this movie from the other movies, it often breaks its own rules.
I complained in The Conjuring 2 that the "show, don't tell" element was getting weaker per film. I complained mainly that the CG Crooked Man does not hold up to the scrutiny of the other demons in the series. Annabelle: Creation does such an abysmal job with its creature that nothing really works with it. The major view of the creature that is attached to the doll is by showing the hands and fingernails. Man, these hands look super dumb. They honestly look like a Halloween costume with the impracticality of the hands. There's nothing really creative about the look of this creature. It seems like it is made by checklist of creepy things. Jet black hands with long nails? Check. That's it. The nails look like Lee Press-ons. Yup, I'm standing by that description. Considering how creepy the creatures looked in The Conjuring and Annabelle, I'm surprised that no one really commented on how weak the creature looks in this one. A lot of the movie is centered around it. Because the monster was not scary, the movie itself was not scary. I don't think I've been bored with a horror movie this badly. Do you understand how hard it was to not look at my phone the entire time during this film?
Let's talk about the big mistake in this movie. It's a scene and it seems nitpicky, but it might be telling about how lazy this movie really is. There is a scene where a Catholic nun hears one of her charge's confessions. C'mon. There is no way that the filmmakers didn't know that a nun couldn't do that. Someone on set had to say, "Um, a nun can't do that." Someone had to have brought it up and the producers had to say, "Who cares?" That might be the most telling thing about the movie. They are treating the audience as stupid and easily placated. This is a problem that could have easily been solved. Someone went to the expense to research what a confession looks like, but didn't bother to think of a solve to the fact that Sister Charlotte (often just referred to as "Charlotte") didn't have the ability to hear that confession. Much of the movie treats the audience as dumb in that way. There are tropes throughout the film that really don't matter or pay off. Miranda Otto's Esther is teased as being this phantom of the house is merely an excuse to show off a gross out special effect. (A note: the effect isn't that gross or worth the hype.) SPOILER: She is quickly dispatched (admittedly in a cooler gross out way), but there is no real mystery to the house. If anything, the movie screams "terribly generic", building on movies that have far less of a reputation than this franchise swears by. Honestly, I commented in my first Conjuring review that I had stayed away from this franchise because I thought they were dumb. I think that the trailer for Annabelle: Creation is what put that idea firmly in my mind. The other movies were movies that simply passed me by and didn't appeal to me, but this is the one that made me think that the entire franchise was a bad idea. I'm glad that the other movies changed my mind, but I was right about this one. It is an abysmally boring film.
I don't want to crap on little kids and their performances, but those performances are rough. Talitha Bateman's performance made me feel like her parents were forcing her to be a child actress. She holds her own with what is an abysmal script that doesn't really understand child dynamics, but the real weak spot is Lulu Wilson as Linda. (I'm so sorry, little girl that I've never met. I'm sorry that you tried really hard and I had to troll all over your performance.) I've been thinking about what it must be like to be a child actor. My mother-in-law keeps joking about making my daughter a star and I just glare. Like, I'm not mad at her (I swear, Lauren!), but what kind of parent allows a kid to avoid a normal childhood. Maybe she's really into acting and loves it and it's her passion. Then again, she could be on the set of a horror movie reacting to Miranda Otto's torso crucified to a wall. You know, these are things. There are some amazing child actors, so I don't want to disparage every one of them. I just kept getting pulled out of the movie with bad performances and atrocious dialogue.
Annabelle: Creation's biggest fault is that it doesn't aspire to much. Scares are its final goal and it doesn't achieve them. Weirdly enough, the other movies in the franchise seem to have some self-esteem. The one that was actually preached by the director is the one that just tried scaring audiences without actually making me think. While I like the denouement, it does seem a little tangential from the whole plot. If anything, it reminded me that there were better entries in the franchise and that I had wasted my time waiting for this one to come out. That's okay for me, though. I think a podcast becomes more interesting when I have both good and bad things to say about the franchise.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.