The #horror genre has seen major improvements over the past few years, with quality psychological scares balancing out the jump scares. James Wan's #TheConjuring series has been among the recent greats, and its universe has opened many dimensions in terms of possible sequels and spinoffs.
The first Conjuring spinoff was the prequel #Annabelle, which was unfortunately dead on arrival. The film didn’t live up to its hype, and I yearned for a follow-up to get it right, since the property has so much potential.
Luckily, Annabelle wasn't a financial failure, and Warner Bros. issued another spinoff — but this time in the right hands of Lights Out director David F. Sandberg. The first trailer for #AnnabelleCreation debuted over the weekend with some frightening-as-hell visuals. Footage from the film was also shown at #Wondercon this weekend, and attendees reported that the scares left quite an impression.
Annabelle: Creation has an opportunity to not just redeem the franchise, but to prove that horror spinoffs can be just as good as the films that spawned them.
The Problems With Horror Franchises Today
While recent films such as #DontBreathe and #LightsOut have pushed the genre forward, sequels, remakes and spinoffs are still pretty lowbrow in terms of quality. There are too many Paranormal Activity and Saw sequels out there. #VHS was a gem, but its sequels took the quality down a notch, because it all felt the same. The producers of the 2009 #Fridaythe13th remake are already looking for another remake.
With the Lights Out director behind the camera of Annabelle: Creation, could it frighten away bad horror spinoffs for good (or at least, for awhile)? I believe so.
The Brilliance Of Lights Out
David F. Sandberg made a brilliant horror film with Lights Out, using practical effects and a limited budget to intensify the storytelling. The scares in Lights Out largely relied on character, which horror films can tend to forget; the characters make choices that feel organic rather than forced, which strengthens the story. The film is an inspiration for upcoming indie filmmakers, who see Lights Out as proof that big hits can happen under reasonable constraints.
Sandberg's love for practicality is obvious in the trailer for Annabelle: Creation, which shows little to no CGI. His simple use of fading lights and dark outlines (sort of opposite of silhouettes) adds so much to the atmosphere. The lightbulb that moved on its own was also done with practical effects. Sandberg enjoys the slow build of the scare with simple, choreographed movements — such as blinking eyes on a standing dark figure or just the sight of a doll in a rocking chair.
How Annabelle: Creation Will Be Different Than Annabelle
The choice to make the Annabelle: Creation an origin story in Sandberg’s version is a brilliant move. While the first spinoff felt more of a cash grab to capitalize on the Conjuring franchise's success, Sandberg’s origin tale is aiming for the opposite: a quality scary movie with great characters. It's the whole reason why the director chose to make the spinoff, saying at WonderCon:
“I probably wouldn’t have been as interested in making it if it had been a straight continuation of the first movie.”
Annabelle: Creation has the potential to stand on its own. It will be the ideal spinoff that The Conjuring franchise needs to solidify its standout, old-school approach. The trailer feels fresh, and we know that Sandberg has a passion for storytelling. Hopefully Annabelle: Creation is a success, sparking a revolution in how horror sequels and prequels are produced.