There’s always something creepy about kids in horror movies. Whether it’s a cliché or not, it’s hard not to be creeped out by those twins from The Shining or Damien from The Omen — and #AnnabelleCreation has carried on that tradition.
The story centers on two best friends, Janice and Linda, both orphans. The Mullins, parents of the deceased Annabelle, take them in after their orphanage is shut down. Keeping the Annabelle doll to a minimum, director David F. Sandberg made sure that we stick with these children, as creepy sights and sounds hit us like a freight train.
Note: light spoilers follow for Annabelle: Creation.
Annabelle: Creation begins like a classic haunted house tale, but as the story unfolds, Janice (Talitha Bateman) finds herself in Annabelle's bedroom after being told to stay away from it. The room is decorated with rocking chairs, toys, and a model of the entire house. It feels claustrophobic.
In Annabelle's room, Janice is presented with her ghost. Annabelle appears to be innocent like any child would. She lures Janice in and reveals herself to be a demon. The ghost of Annabelle preys on Janice and Linda (Lulu Wilson), and the exchange between them is well-focused.
Focusing On The Children Makes It Scarier
Annabelle: Creation tells the story from the children’s point of view, much like Children of the Corn (except the kids are normal, not murderous). The film develops their relationships more than the adults'. In fact, the adult characters in Creation are minimal, making the children’s experience feel more isolated.
As the demon goes from one vessel to another, the children find themselves haunted by Janice. The last 30 minutes of the film have a possessed Janice stalk the children with an old-fashioned slasher routine, but also with a twist. Their caretaker, a nun named Sister Charlotte (Stephanie Sigman), isn't able to help them, for she is finding the experience just as horrifying as the children are.
Talitha Bateman's performance, from her humble beginnings to possessed maniac, is brilliant. Her character resonates because of how vulnerable she is, and how completely frightened when she is possessed. I think I'll never listen "You Are My Sunshine" the same way anymore.
It's All About That Doll
OK, there’s more to it than the doll, but the doll is the catalyst for the demon’s soul-hungry hijinks, and the soul of a child is the heart of the demon's strength. The Annabelle doll is one of the creepiest things that has come out of the horror genre in recent memory. It’s not so much a child, rather a demon in form of a child-like body, almost like Damien from The Omen.
Annabelle: Creation presents the doll so well without barely moving it. The stillness of the doll is like staring at those Shining twins in the hallway. It’s freaky, quiet and unsettling. David F. Sandberg used brilliant ways to choreograph the Annabelle doll into a moving child.
Take the scene below, for example. It’s a mixture of simple cuts while covering up the subject, and the result leaves us gasping. The effect is the result of a practical approach, and it works:
Annabelle: Creation is the perfect example of what a spinoff should do. The film is the universe’s first great film that expands on #TheConjuring franchise. Although the first Annabelle had its moments, it felt rushed and tame compared to this latest entry. I’m excited to see what the other directors have in store for us, as more spinoffs are coming our way. They'll surely honor the traditions of classic horror storytelling, just as Annabelle: Creation kept the tradition of creepy kids alive.
Annabelle: Creation is now playing in theaters.
Did you see Annabelle: Creation this week? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comment section below.