By Kam Williams
Annabelle: Creation is the fourth film in a horror film series that features The Conjuring 1 and 2 as well as Annabelle. Because this prequel is set in 1952, well before the events which transpired in the others, you don’t have to be familiar with those pictures to enjoy this one, especially if you like having the bejesus scared out of you.
This horror movie has all the staples of a generic haunted house adventure, ranging from a spooky disembodied voice singing a cappella, to involuntary levitation, to a victim leaving nail marks in the floor as she’s dragged down a darkened hall by a mysterious force. The movie was directed by David F. Sandberg, the Swedish director who made an impressive debut last year with the thriller Lights Out.
As the film unfolds, we find dollmaker Samuel Mullins (Anthony LaPaglia) and his reclusive bed-ridden wife, Esther (Miranda Otto), living in a ramshackle Victorian mansion on a mountaintop in the middle of nowhere. They’re still shaken by the loss of their daughter Bee (Samara Lee) who was hit by a car more than ten years ago.
To ease their loneliness, the inconsolable couple has decided to share their home with six orphans. The homeless girls are chaperoned by Sister Charlotte (Stephanie Sigman), a God-fearing guardian who is grateful to get a roof over their heads.
The children are given free rein of the place, except for a direct order from Mr. Mullins to stay out of Bee’s bedroom. But of course that injunction proves too tempting for Janice (Talitha Bateman), a curious child who is suffering from polio.
Of course, she goes inside the room and thereby unwittingly unleashes a host of demonic forces that are controlled by Annabelle, a doll Samuel had originally made for his dead daughter. It isn’t long thereafter that all hell breaks loose.
Director Sandberg is adept at ratcheting up the tension. In fact, the spine-tingling movie has innumerable heart-stopping moments.
Very Good (***). Rated R for horror violence and terror. Running time: 109 minutes. Production Company: New Line Cinema/Atomic Monster. Distributor: Warner Brothers Pictures.