The world of “The Conjuring” continues to expand with “Annabelle: Creation,” the second spin-off centering on a creepy possessed doll that wreaks havoc wherever she goes.
“Creation” does manage to be an improvement over the first “Annabelle” film, but it is still a step behind the two “Conjuring” pictures – a horror film that doesn’t know when to quit, leaving the audience completely exhausted by the time the final credits roll.
“Creation” is actually a prequel to the first film, as we see the origins of the doll – created by a doll maker named Samuel Mullins (Anthony LaPaglia), who lives with his wife Esther (Miranda Otto) and young daughter Bee (Samara Lee).
When Bee is killed in a tragic accident, the couple retreat into seclusion for several years before opening their house to a nun (Stephanie Sigman) and six girls from a recently closed orphanage.
The charity quickly turns to something else when Janice (Talitha Bateman), a girl with polio, finds the creepy doll locked away – unknowingly freeing the evil spirit that inhabits it.
As Janice becomes more entranced by the power of evil, her closest friend Linda (Lulu Wilson) tries to save Janice and stop the evil spirit.
“Creation” was directed by David F. Sandberg, who also directed last year’s “Lights Out.” Sandberg clearly has a keen eye for horror, capable of getting plenty of jump scares out of shadows and dark hallways and any other haunted house cliche you can imagine.
The problem with this “Annabelle” is that Sandberg goes to the horror well way too often – creating a film that feels like a funhouse ride going in circles that you can’t get off of.
Sure it provides some frights for a bit, but eventually it grows tiresome to the point that you just want it to end already.
Part of what makes “The Conjuring” films work so well is that there is a nice ebb and flow between the story and the scary moments, allowing the audience to catch its breath. That’s not the case with “Creation,” which pounds one creepy moment after another, more concerned with piling up scares than actually trying to make characters the audience can relate to.
Wilson, who was in last year’s “Ouija” sequel, and Bateman show glimpses of sympathetic humanity, but it’s not enough to counter balance a film that has as many “Why are they doing that?” moments as it does jump-out-of-your-seat moments.
If “Creation” does anything, it at least moves this spin-off in the right direction (while also setting up another “Conjuring” spin-off during a post credits scene.) That may be enough to satisfy fans of the series, but it’s still probably not enough to bring in new fans – at least not yet.