Annabelle: Creation (2017)

*. 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.

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5 thoughts on “Annabelle: Creation (2017)

  1. Tom Moody

    As I recall, a slug makes a mouth-to-mouth transfer in They Came From Within but that wasn’t really vomiting. One thing that’s always bugged me about The Hidden was, when it came time for Kyle McLachlan’s inner creature to make the transfer to another human (the dying Michael Nouri), instead of the gross bug we would have every reason to expect (since that was the true form of the aliens), a beam of golden light comes out of McLachlan’s mouth. I realize the happy ending dictated we not see that insect again, but it seemed like cheating to have this tinkerbell effect at the end.

    Reply
    1. Alex Good Post author

      My understanding (and it’s been decades since I saw the film, though I remember enjoying it immensely) was that Kyle McLachlan’s parasite was a “good” alien — in other words a different species than the bad body-hopping alien he was pursuing. And even among aliens soul is form and doth the body make, so good aliens will always be showers of golden light while bad aliens will be disgusting bugs.

      Reply
  2. Tom Moody

    Not to belabor this but what are the chances that two alien species with the power to hop earthling bodies would have completely different forms? The premise of the movie was reminiscent of Hal Clement’s sf book Needle — good cop (hunter) and and bad crook (hunted) were amoebic forms living inside human bodies. The good cop was afraid his host would revolt on discovering his true form but the kid was very open minded…

    Reply
    1. Alex Good Post author

      Oh I agree it doesn’t make a lick of sense. But the movie was so over-the-top and silly anyway I didn’t mind. I mean, doesn’t the bad alien have a thing for sports cars and sexy women? I should go back and watch it again. I remember really liking it when it first came out and I wonder if it holds up.

      Reply
  3. Tom Moody

    Yes, the bad alien has big appetites and is completely wasteful of human bodies. Chris Mulkey plays him memorably in early scenes. McLachlan’s FBI agent/alien is an early manifestation of the clean-cut Dale Cooper persona. I think the movie does hold up, except for that damned ending.

    Reply

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