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Malevolent throwback: 'Annabelle: Creation' is a creepy origins tale

(L-R) The Annabelle doll and TALITHA BATEMAN as Janice in New Line Cinema’s supernatural thriller “ANNABELLE: CREATION,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

Annabelle: Creation
3 out of 5 Stars
Director:
David F. Sandberg
Writer: Gary Dauberman
Starring: Stephanie Sigman, Miranda Otto, Lulu Wilson
Genre: Horror, Mystery
Rated: R for horror violence and terror.

Synopsis: Six orphan girls go to stay with the Mullins, a family who lost their daughter in a horrific car accident a decade before. Believing the house has become the home of an evil presence, the girls explore for the secret kept within the Mullins house.

Review: I love a good horror movie, particularly those that don’t rely heavily on entrails and splatter to sell their thrills. I rather enjoyed “The Conjuring,” the first film in what has developed into a lucrative franchise, but its sequel and the “Annabelle” spinoff weren’t nearly as good. With “Annabelle: Creation,” an origin story about the demonic doll, the series gets back on track as director David F. Sandberg and writer Gary Dauberman combine on a film that is less about gore and special effects and more about the building up a creepy atmosphere with bump-in-the-night scares.

Dauberman is able to avoid a few of the genre’s problematic tropes, particularly when it comes to Janice (Talitha Bateman), arguably the film’s lead, by hampering her with polio. He’s also made a wise decision by populating the story with mostly young people who are by their very nature vulnerable. Making them also orphans is just icing on the cake. If only his dialogue was equally as smart.

There are some stretches that feel a bit slow and parts of the final act threaten to go off the rails, but the film never goes far enough astray to ruin the experience.

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