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Film review – The Conjuring prequel Annabelle: Creation is not for the faint of heart

From demonic creatures to fingers snapping, director David F. Sandberg has delivered a chilling prequel, sure to get any horror fan’s heart racing

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 08 August, 2017, 7:00pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 August, 2017, 8:01pm

3.5/5 stars

A prequel-of-sorts to The Conjuring films, this effective and well-made chiller from Lights Out director David F. Sandberg is a worthy addition to this ghoulish franchise. Far better than 2014’s Annabelle, the film – as its title suggests – turns back the clock to reveal how the creepy Annabelle doll, seen in the Conjuring films, came about.

The story begins in 1950s dust bowl America as toymaker Sam (Anthony LaPaglia) and his wife Esther (Miranda Otto) lose their daughter, Annabelle, in a road accident. Twelve years on, they invite a nun (Stephanie Sigman) and the orphans she cares for to their house to live. But when bullied polio sufferer Janice (Talitha Bateman) finds one of Sam’s dolls mysteriously locked in a cupboard, a torrent of evil is unleashed.

Screenwriter Gary Dauberman, who also scripted Annabelle, finds ways to join the dots in this film. He smartly follows the model set up by the Conjuring films – practical effects, creepy locations and quality character actors. Australian pair Otto and LaPaglia are well cast as the traumatised parents barely struggling to keep body and soul together.

Annabelle: Creation director David F. Sandberg’s horror inspirations and how he brings fresh twists to the genre

True, the film doesn’t manage to fully explore hinted-at religious issues – the quest for Janice’s soul feels more like decoration – but credit must be given to Sandberg for the way he builds a sense of foreboding and delivers on it.

Mixing minimal CGI with plenty of in-camera visuals (furniture flying, demonic creatures, fingers snapping), it’s a horror cauldron that simmers away nicely, before bubbling fiercely.

Nail-biting and nasty, Annabelle: Creation is not for the easily scared.

Annabelle: Creation opens on August 10

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