Annabelle: Creation Review
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Years ago, my mom went through a phase where she decorated the house with old, antique dolls with glassy eyes—and the house full of creepy dolls was almost enough to make me want to strike out on my own. And that aversion to old dolls probably makes me the target market for Annabelle: Creation.

Annabelle: Creation tells the story of six orphans and Sister Charlotte (Stephanie Sigman), the nun who moves with them to a big home in the country after their orphanage is closed. They’re taken in by doll maker Samuel Mullins (Anthony LaPaglia) and his mysterious bedridden wife, a couple whose own daughter was killed years ago. But what first seems like a dream home becomes a nightmare when strange things begin happening—and the girls are haunted by a creepy doll and an evil spirit that haunts it.

Like any decent horror flick, Annabelle: Creation is dark and eerie and quiet, with plenty of tense close-ups and out-of-focus movement in the background. It also boasts a creepy doll, the dead little girl who haunts the house, and the terrifying demon that controls them both. And, as if that weren’t enough, there’s also the mystery of bedridden Mrs. Mullins (Miranda Otto), who remains confined to her room, hidden from the new residents of the house.

The demon focuses its attention on Janice (Talitha Bateman), whose emotional distance from most of the other girls and physical weakness from polio apparently make her an easy target. The young actress definitely has a challenging role, but she takes on not only the character’s physical challenges but also a wide range of emotions with ease.

Unfortunately, though, what starts out as a haunting tale of demons and creepy dolls grows into something that’s long and drawn out and often laughably over-the-top. Not all of the performances are as strong as Bateman’s—and some of the characters become more annoying as time passes. Though much of the film effectively relies on tension and the occasional jumpy scares to hold viewers’ attention, the usual nervous laughter from the audience turns into a different kind of laughter altogether as director David F. Sandberg tries to go all-out for the final scenes, forcing the characters into a big battle with evil that eventually feels tedious and stretched out.

Of course, if you’re in the mood for the kind of creepy, over-the-top scares that will make you jump at the sight of shadows around your house at night, Annabelle: Creation will do the trick. But it isn’t as successful as other installments in producer James Wan’s horror universe.

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