I honestly couldn’t tell you the last time I saw a genuinely great horror movie like this. I’m hesitant to put Annabelle: Creation into the “one of the best rated-R horror movies I’ve ever seen” shelf, as it is currently stocked with, in order (take notes, please): Halloween (1978), Psycho (1960), It Follows, Cabin in the Woods, The Hills Have Eyes (2006), Trick r’ Treat, Quarantine, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003), Evil Dead (2013), and The Wolfman. Please note these are ranked by overall film and not by how scary they are; also note these are my rated-R favorites, and so my list excludes many of producer James Wan’s films from “The Conjuring universe.”
Let’s first return to the name of James Wan, who’s truly renovated the 21st century horror genre. He made a name for himself 13 years ago after directing Saw and ultimately helped in production for the rest of the Saw series. Directing the acclaimed Insidious, which is truly a staple of his, he went on to direct the unnecessary but still enjoyable Insidious 2. Re-making a name for himself with The Conjuring and The Conjuring 2, he began to create his own horror universe with these films. Annabelle eventually spun off from The Conjuring because the doll was so amazingly creepy. Due in 2018, spin-offs of The Nun and The Crooked Man will debut as some of the more memorable moments from The Conjuring 2. Sorry for the James Wan parade, but I wanted to lay the groundwork for the horror world he has created with just (originally) one film, The Conjuring.
Back to the movie! Annabelle: Creation serves as the prequel of Annabelle, which was more-or-less a prequel to The Conjuring, and it surpassed its predecessors for an arsenal of reasons. Direction played a major part, much obliged to David F. Sandberg, who was behind last year’s great horror movie, Lights Out. He made great use of camera direction and movement with Annabelle: Creation that truly helped in creating some of the most suspenseful scenes I’ve endured in years. He truly mastered the use of the horror basics with blurred focus, long takes for suspense, and light/darkness.
Most incredible, which can be a rarity with horror these days, is that the the demon is shown with such great use of darkness and ambiguity; you leave the theater still with chills because you never see 100% of the creature most of the time. This was my biggest complaint of (what could have been one of the best horror movies in years) Mama from 2013. It lost its ability to be re-watched enjoyably and, most of all, its horror appeal, because of overuse of showing the creature and, hence, ruining what would have been left to the imagination. To close, Annabelle: Creation is as close to horror-movie perfection we have been in years. The final scene seemed almost like an add-on to make a connection to its predecessor, but I won’t complain as it was still a unique-enough twist/closing.