*. Hm. A prequel to the prequel (a prequel to Annabelle, which was itself a prequel to The Conjuring, if you’re keeping score). I’d make fun of this but I’m sure enough people have already.
*. Actually, the billing has it that it’s “the next chapter in The Conjuring universe.” Sheesh. It’s a universe now?
*. Given how disappointed I was in Annabelle (and my expectations weren’t high), I’m a little surprised I even bothered with this one. But here we are.
*. I’m glad I gave it a try. I thought this was a very effective, very scary movie. Not at all original, to be sure. Not original in any way, shape, or form. But that’s the nature of all these contemporary haunted house flicks. They’re just going back to the classics. Director David F. Sanger said he was going for the look and feel of classics like The Haunting and The Shining and that sounds about right.
*. Sanger came to the project from Lights Out, which was an expansion on one of his excellent horror vignettes (also called Lights Out). He does a great job with these short suspenseful sequences, but again there’s nothing particularly new about what he’s doing. Something dangerous glimpsed behind a character. The peering into the darkness that was such a big part of Lights Out. A face turned away from us that promises all kinds of horrors when it turns around. Girls being knocked to the floor and then being dragged screaming back by their heels. Hell, he even throws in a ghost in a sheet. That’s something he also used in one of his shorts, and I remember it coming up in Paranormal Activity 3 as well. The horror tradition is being well mined by this generation of filmmakers, and they’re doing it without any sense of irony.
*. It’s remarkable how a film so generic, and one that telegraphs its jump scares so much, still works. As I’ve said before, you can’t really go wrong with this material. In the first half of Annabelle: Creation we have introduced all the elements that we know are going to be used later. There is the business of the notes being used in the game of hide-and-seek. Oh yes, that’s going to come back. Then there’s an elevator stairway seat. Check. There’s a scarecrow. A well. A dumbwaiter. You know we’re going to see all of this again.
*. Another big thing this film has going for it is the acting. Talitha Bateman as Janice and Lulu Wilson as Linda are both really good. Annabelle: Creation would have been in a lot of trouble without their coming through.
*. I wonder what the first film to do the mouth-to-mouth vomiting routine was. It seems to have become fairly common now. The same year as Annabelle: Creation it was also done in It Comes by Night. I remember it being used in Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness (1987), which may have been where it got its start. Also in 1987, however, the SF thriller The Hidden had an alien that body-hopped in a similar fashion.
*. I’m not sure that as a movie it makes a whole lot of sense. Along with all the generic elements come a number of generic complaints I have about this kind of story. First and foremost is the matter of the demon’s motivation. I don’t mean the general motivation — I assume that it is just out to steal souls — but the particular motivation that drives it to run around doing scary things like opening and closing doors, skulking in the shadows, turning on appliances, or unscrewing light bulbs. Obviously because it’s a horror movie “doing scary things” is pretty much the job description for any evil entity. But as I watch all these trivial shenanigans I keep asking myself why they’re bothering.
*. Nicely photographed, as most of these films are. A workmanlike if overstated score, again like most of these films. Yes, you could call it more of the same. Better than the first Annabelle though, and a professionally turned out fright flick all around. As with the movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, however, I’m beginning to wonder how much longer they can keep going back to the same haunted well.