When the first Conjuring movie became one of the most successful horror films of all time, we knew it was inevitable that we would be getting sequels and spinoffs fairly quickly. Yet while the actual sequel was a fairly good movie, the first spinoff was really quite awful. Annabelle, the doll on which the first spinoff was based, only briefly appeared in the first Conjuring, but for some reason proved popular enough to warrant an entire movie. The big issue with the movie was that nothing really happened – it just wasn’t scary, and very little explanation was given as to why the doll was so evil. Although it proved to be somewhat successful, the result was less than stellar. Lucky for us, the new movie went back to the very beginning to give us an actual explanation as to why Annabelle exists and in the process, and this made Annabelle: Creation a vast improvement over the original and the scariest movie since the the first Conjuring.

In 1943, the Mullins (a doll maker and his wife) experience a devastating loss when their young daughter Bee is tragically killed. Twelve years later, in 1955, a group of young female orphans are taken in by the Mullins after they are displaced from their orphanage. Janice, one of the young girls, has been crippled due to cerebral palsy and figures she has little chance of ever being adopted so she hopes to embrace her new home. However, not long after arriving in their new home, strange things begin to happen.

One of the things most people want when going to see a horror movie is to be scared. I’m not sure if I’ve become mostly desensitized to it, or if it’s just that most recent “scary” movies aren’t actually that scary, but the number of movies that have genuinely creeped me out over the last several years can be counted on one hand. One of them was the first Conjuring, and I can say that the Annabelle sequel is now on the list. There was actually a few times I was caught off guard by a scary moment, and at least once I jumped. As I said, not many movies have been able to do that lately, so kudos to the movie makers for succeeding.

Something that generally doesn’t matter when it comes to this type of movie is how well the actors pull off their roles. I personally don’t recall a single time I’ve walked out of a horror film saying how great an actor was in the role. Most “acting” in horror films involves nothing more than screaming, running, hiding or dying. Even though some of today’s biggest stars got their start in flight flicks (Jamie Lee Curtis & Kevin Bacon for example) that generally isn’t what they became known for. That being said, the young star of Annabelle: Creation –  Talitha Bateman – is absolutely fantastic. Whether her character is scared, sad, happy or just plain creepy, she does a great job with the role. I truly hope she gets more work from this movie.

I really wasn’t expecting too much from the Annabelle sequel, but I was at least hoping it would be better than the first. I can say that I was truly surprised by how improved the movie was. Even better, Annabelle: Creation establishes and actual link to the first movie (aside from the doll itself), and in the process makes the original somewhat better. Without getting into spoilers, I’ll say the ending will make more sense if you’ve seen the first film. On it’s own, however, Annabelle: Creation is a creepy way to spend an couple hours. Now, lets hope the next Conjuring spinoff (The Nun) doesn’t repeat the mistakes made by the first Annabelle.

FINAL REVIEW: B

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