Horror cinema, once hampered by limitations in budget (even cheesy effects), can not compete with the big boys. In David F. Sandberg's terrific Annabelle: Creation, we witness the steps which led to the making of a frightening doll.
An early tragedy could be milked for gore and sadness. Instead, Sandberg moves forward twelve years for the main narrative. Orphan girls Linda (Lulu Wilson) and Janice (Talitha Bateman) behave like sisters. This makes their pact to stay together all the more devastating given what happens next. Eventually, curiosity wins over Janice and she enters a room thatís kept locked for a reason.
While Annabelle: Creation gives every indication that it might be business as usual, thatís not the case. Thereís humour, which reinforces how characters interact. Thus, we are able to care about these people on a deeper level. Beyond the norm, the film contains some exceptional acting. Concerning Lulu Wilson, she gave an extraordinary turn in 2016ís Ouija: Origin of Evil, and sheís no less fantastic in Annabelle: Creation. If she carries on this path, I might dub her the Shirley Temple of Terror. Another revelation proves to be Talitha Bateman. Sheís incredible as a polio sufferer whose willpower makes her an inspiration.
Put it down to a behind the scenes player, namely cinematographer Maxime Alexandre. He makes daring use of lenses, colour, shadows, screen direction, space and camera movement. As of this writing, his contribution represents a landmark in 2017.
Excitingly, Annabelle: Creation runs adjacent to the Stephen King adaptation It. Both feature composer Benjamin Wallfisch crafting harmonious horror. For the former, he justifies the relationship between equilibrium and disruption as a fairy-tale. Just imagine London while hearing his music, specifically when the city was engulfed by flames. Yes, it was darkly lit by hellfire. Yet no matter how light or heavy the gesture, Wallfisch applies depth over artificiality.
Adding to which, seamless editing by Michel Aller allows us to anticipate jump scares, while laughing at the movie-goer unaccustomed to such tactics. As the film unfolded, I became aware that someone was giggling at being caught off-guard. The decision on what to see falls under the remit of the editor. As such, Aller clearly defines the psychological implications. As a potential classic, Annabelle: Creation survives not because itís gory. Rather the film reflects society as a beautiful and ugly unit. Because we relate to humanity, the supernatural merely teases us from our hiding spots. Therefore, itís time to step up and face fear.
By every means available, Annabelle: Creation delivers a versatile combination of dust worn atmosphere and believable substance. Itís a remarkable improvement over Sandbergís previous picture Lights Out. Overall, the latter felt insubstantial, even amateurish.
(Released by Warner Bros. and rated "R" for horror violence and terror.)