I’ve been a film fanatic as long as I can remember. Films have molded my personality, created sparks in my imagination and have given me a career path to follow. ‘Review’ can be a dirty word nowadays, as a lot of our personal opinions don’t necessarily align with those of most critics. But, that’s why I love films. They divide us by also bringing us together in the most magical of ways. So, instead of giving you a review, I’m going to give you an analysis of what aspects are strong in the specific film, and what are weak. This is my Atypical Analysis.
Annabelle: Creation (Dir. by David F. Sandberg)
In “Annabelle: Creation,” several years after the tragic death of their little girl, a dollmaker and his wife welcome a nun and several girls from a shuttered orphanage into their home, soon becoming the target of the dollmaker’s possessed creation, Annabelle. The film is and Directed by David F. Sandberg, who made the also creepy ‘Lights Out,’ and stars Miranda Otto, Lulu Wilson, Anthony LaPaglia, Stephanie Sigman and Talitha Bateman.
Expectations: I think it’s pretty important to state that I’m a huge horror fan. However, I’m not a fan of unnecessary spinoffs or prequels for no reason. In fact, I didn’t see the first Annabelle film; so, I went into this moderate expectations because of who was in the directors chair.
Writing: If there’s one thing about horror films, I can tell you that the scripts are usually not the strong points. This film was written by Gary Dauberman, who wrote the first Annabelle film, as well as contributed to the most talked about horror film of 2017…IT. While the film was filled with a lot of cliche feeling/sounding lines, there were some very strong scenes carried by the script. But, I will say that this film was strongest when it was tense and borderline silent.
Acting: This is one of the biggest shining points of the film: the cast. Made of mostly young girls, they each gave such an incredible performance. Lulu Wilson, who is absolutely dominating the horror scene right now with her performance in Ouija: Origin of Evil and Deliver Us From Evil, gave an emotional yet badass performance as Linda. Talita Bateman also gave a phenomenal performance as Janice by going from showing fear to inducing it (which is a tough switch to flip for any performer). The film had many other solid performances (including one by the always great, Miranda Otto), but, these two were the stand out stars by far.
Sound/Score: Another strong point about this film has to be the sound design and the score. Before the scary sets in, the score carries the film beautifully with its retro horror sound. With the film being set in the 50’s, the score reflects that insanely well with tones that are reminiscent of that time. When the film kicks into high gear with its scary, the sound design dominates the score; but, the score is still present and builds tension on top of low rumble that reminds the viewer that something horrifying is about to happen. On top of the great score, the sound design truly brings the film to life. Some scenes utilize sounds as transitions (including one scene in particular early on in the film) and others utilize sound to create fear. In fact, some of the scenes solely focus on the audio, rather than showing the gruesome visual. That’s about all I can dive into without spoiling too much about the film.
Visuals: The film was shot by Maxime Alexandre (The Hills Have Eyes, Maniac and P2), who is one of the best cinematographers in the horror genre currently. There are shots in this film that are just absolutely stunning, including several very long takes early on that set the tone for the rest of the film. Maxime does such an amazing job of transitioning the film from being soft and warm to gritty and cold. While the cinematography plays a huge part in making this film so visually appealing, another amazing factor has to be the effects work. A lot of practical effects are at play here that make each scene feel organic and real. You’re never taken out of the scenes, even when visual effects are obvious on screen. Each scare is cautiously crafted to look and feel believable at all times; and, the film truly succeeds here. This category is another one that I can’t say much more about without spoiling some of the strongest moments of the film.
Directing: The film is directed by David F. Sandberg, who is one of the best directors in the horror genre right now. He made the super fun film ‘Lights Out’ in 2016 (based on his short film of the same name), and now he’s tackling ‘The Conjuring’ world with Annabelle: Creation. What I love about David’s approach, is that he set out to make a film that told its own story without forcing its way into a bigger story at play. I applaud the film for being as focused as it is in being something stand alone and ‘classic’ feeling. From the moment the film starts, you can tell that it’s moving at the pace that David feels it should move; but, once the scares start, they never let up. You can really tell Annabelle: Creation is directed by a filmmaker who understands horror, not just on the surface, but, truly understands it. He rewards horror fanatics by drawing their attention to certain places on screen that you’d expect something to be and he tricks you into believing a scare will come from one place as it comes from another. One of the things I loved about this film is how it focused less on jump scares and more about building tension with long scenes that never seemed to end. While the film would start a scene with a jump scare of sorts, it would lead you through the rest of 8-10 minute scene feeling completely unsettled and on the edge of your seat. If you’re not following David F. Sandberg after this film, you’re making a mistake.
Wrap Up: While I had low to no exceptions going into this film, I left feeling a true impact from Annabelle: Creation. It grabs your interest from the first frame and holds your attention firmly up until that first truly terrifying sequence. Once that scene wraps, you will be ready for the film to end so you can catch your breath. All in all, this was a fantastic origin story and actually felt necessary to ‘The Conjuring’ world. Horror fans won’t feel as though new ground was covered with this film, but, they will feel the love from David F. Sandberg. Every part of this film felt ‘classic’ in a way meaning that it took me back to simpler times when films like ‘Poltergeist’ scared the living daylights out of me. The scares are there and the story is captivating enough to recommend this to senior horror fans and new horror fans. With films like Get Out (which I loved), horror is sort of taking an alternative turn by taking more of a ‘slow burn’ approach to the genre. I know this approach is appreciated by most, but, most new horror fans just want to be scared in a dark theatre for an hour and a half. Annabelle: Creation does exactly that. This is a film that shouldn’t be ignored, as, it’s one of the best horror films of 2017, as well as one of the best in recent memory.
Annabelle: Creation releases August 11th, 2017. Get your tickets today!