Movie Review: Annabelle: Creation

Creepy Doll Movie Gets Origin Story Cash In

I tried, I really did. I tried to give Annabelle: Creation the benefit of the doubt. I tried to go with the idiot premise that demons possess dolls and small children and are capable of massive amounts of destruction and horror but are constantly thwarted by locked, wooden doors. 

I gave this movie the chance to explain where the Annabelle doll that has been passed down from the equally silly The Conjuring movies came from and how it came to be a cursed item. I tried, but nothing in the movie convinced me why it was frightening, suspenseful or even mildly discomforting.

Annabelle Creation is intended as the origin story for the doll that we’ve seen locked away in the home Ed and Lorraine Warren, the heroes/real-life con-artists, from The Conjuring movies. Indeed, Annabelle is creepy looking but not in a menacing way — more of a, "Why did anyone think this would be attractive to anyone?" sort of way. 

Seriously, what child would ever want to own a two and a half foot tall, bug-eyed, pig-tailed, proto-dummy like Annabelle? If you’re thinking that Annabelle: Creation might answer that question you are sorely mistaken.

After we are introduced to the tragic backstory of the man who created the Annabelle doll, played dutifully by a disinterested Anthony La Paglia, we are thrust several years into the future where La Paglia and his now bed-ridden wife, played by a slumming-for-a-paycheck Miranda Otto, have taken in half a dozen orphans and their Nun caretaker, Sister Charlotte (Stephanie Sigman). We already know this is a terrible idea because we know what movie we are seeing; the girls meanwhile are about to go through the motions of the plot and try to convince us we haven’t seen all of this before.

Lulu Wilson and Talitha Bateman give everything they can to this increasingly dull plot but they are stranded amidst the diminishing returns of a genre that continues to believe that employing what I like to call a “Jump Score,” wherein the score is constantly telling you when to be frightened as opposed to the plot or characters, is enough to give audiences the ever-cheapening thrills of this idiot franchise. I can’t blame the young cast for trying, they are lovely young girls who are doing their best but there is no escaping the growing inanity of the poltergeist genre.

I could settle for telling you that it’s the predictability and the rote plotting that are the biggest problems of Annabelle: Creation but I have done that in every review of every poltergeist movie I have ever written or podcasted about aside from the original Poltergeist which, at the very least, has childhood nostalgia and director Tobe Hooper on its side. 

So, instead I am just going to focus on the biggest issues directly from the logic of Annabelle: Creation and you dear reader can try and tell me why I am wrong or why what I am nitpicking over is somehow incorrect.

So, is there one demon or two in Annabelle: Creation? At one point in the movie, two characters in two separate portions of the plot in two different locations are attempting to escape what seems like two different demons. 

A group of the more nondescript orphan characters are dealing with a demon which emerges from a scarecrow and appears to have no connection whatsoever to the doll that is supposedly the villain, or the vessel of the villain, of this mess. I know this because the other character in the other plot is at this same moment on the run from the character supposedly possessed by the demon that is supposedly possessing the doll.

So, is the doll possessed? Neither the first movie or this one have a good idea as to how this doll that gives the series its title and is supposedly the catalyst for all this evil even came to be. 

We are told that La Paglia and Otto’s characters asked for some way to bring their dead daughter back to life but they don’t perform any rituals or encounter any other characters; they simply ask and suddenly their late daughter is running about just out of sight and eventually asks to move its soul(?) into the doll. 

Why? 

Who the hell knows? We go on to find out that it wasn’t even their daughter but some malevolent being pretending to be their daughter that needed their permission to move into the doll. Why this doll? What good does having your soul in a doll do? Are adults resistant to demons invading them? If that's the case then why are demons so great at killing adult characters? 

There are then even bigger holes in this already shoddy plot. Annabelle: Creation posits a demon with the power to do remarkable physical feats, including committing grisly murders and yet locked doors continually foil it. The demon can destroy some people without much trouble but is seemingly, repeatedly thwarted by girls between the ages of 12 and 17. Can someone explain to me why I am supposed to be afraid of a demon that can barely survive an encounter with small children?

I could go on but I also recognize that movies like Annabelle: Creation are critic proof. While I have become jaded to the point of raw anger at this silly, repetitious genre, others will continue to go to movies like this somehow able to suspend disbelief by the sheer will of wanting the rush of being afraid. To them I say, I envy you. Honestly, I wish I could feel that rush again the way I did when I first saw Nightmare on Elm Street as a 9-year-old boy who should not have been watching horror movies.

I wish that I was able to stop asking questions about the demons’ abilities and motivations and simply give myself over to the giddy thrill that comes with the suspension of disbelief but I just can’t and when it comes to a movie as shabbily assembled as Annabelle: Creation my effort was in vain regardless of my desire. 

So to you dear reader who can turn off your brain and find some way to enjoy a movie that is silly, repetitious, predictable and shabby, go forth and enjoy yourself with Annabelle: Creation

I am going to stop asking questions about inane horror movies and try to find something more worthy of my efforts like clipping my fingernails or re-grouting the bathtub. 

Sean Patrick
Sean Patrick

I have been a film critic for more than 17 years and worked professionally, as a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association for the past 6 years. My favorite movie of all time is The Big Lebowski because it always feels new. 

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Movie Review: Annabelle: Creation