15 – 110mins – 2017
TOY STORY OF TERROR
With my recent rewatch of 2014’s unfairly-maligned Annabelle (reviewed HERE) still haunting my memory, I tentatively headed to the cinema ALONE to see the new and far more warmly-received prequel to a prequel, directed this time around by David F. Sandberg, who recently sent shivers down my spine in short film-expanded horror feature Lights Out.
Creation takes us even further back in time than its 60s set predecessor, first to 1943 in a short-but-tragic prologue, before the bulk of the narrative takes place in 1955. Sister Charlotte (Stephanie Sigman) and the remaining six girls of a closed orphanage are given refuge in the dusty, labyrinthine home of dollmaker Samuel Mullins (Anthony A Good Marriage LaPaglia) and his sickly and bedridden wife, Esther (Miranda Otto).
At first the girls think their prayers are answered, but when polio-sufferer Janice (Talitha Bateman) is lured into the locked bedroom of the Mullin’s deceased daughter, “Bee” (Samara Lee), so begins their paranormal torment, with the spirit of “Bee” transposed into one of Samuel’s dolls by an unknown, demonic entity who took advantage of the Mullins’ grief and secretly wants a human host and soul to make its own…
Creepy house in the middle of nowhere? Tick; mourning, desperate, cagey and mysterious adults? Tick; innocent and vulnerable
victims children? Tick; scary-as-shit porcelain McGuffin? Tick; while all the components of Annabelle: Creation may make you believe this is a derivative and cynical cash grab (the original made over $250million from a $6.5million budget, a follow-up was guaranteed), this fourth entry in The Conjuring movie-verse bucks all trends and dispels all naysayers – this is a chilling, atmospheric and well crafted old-school production, no diminishing returns here.
While the titular toy acts as a conduit to the supernatural forces at play and is still little more than a promotional-pull for the film, Creation still finds fresh and creative ways to chill audiences to the bone (I seem to have become a master at half-looking at the screen during the most tense scenes) while fleshing out the doll’s demonic backstory in the most inspired way. Nods to upcoming spin-off The Nun and crucial ties to the first film were great caps on a fantastic frightener which far exceeded my already excited expectations.
CR@B’s Claw Score: