BY RYAN MACKETT
I’VE ALWAYS gravitated toward dark, fantastical imagery. Some of my favourite art, books, music, movies and television shows are (or at least exhibit) some of the frightening traits associated with horror.
Skulls, ghosts, vampires, evil creatures, monsters, aliens- I really find it all fascinating. Yet, interestingly, contemporary horror is probably my least favourite genre when it comes to movies. With a very few exceptions, contemporary horror films can usually be placed into one of two categories: Gratuitously violent and gory torture-porn (which I abhor), and lazy jump-scare flicks. Annabelle: Creation falls into the latter category.
A rare contemporary horror films that found a great balance between atmosphere, story, imagery, true horror and thrills is James Wan’s 2013 film The Conjuring (the 2016 sequel was still good, but less effective than the first).
The Conjuring’s sub-plot involved a haunted doll named Annabelle. There was a 2014 spin-off/prequel film entitled Annabelle (which admittedly I have not seen); this film, Annabelle: Creation, served as a prequel to the 2014 spin-off.
One of the most compelling aspects of horror is the story. After all, a good campfire ghost story is essentially a story that just so happens to feature a ghost. The best horror films are the ones that understand that story and character should always come first. When a horror film exists solely as a means to elicit a jump-scare from the audience, it becomes immediately forgettable because it forgoes the necessary storytelling and character development required to spin a truly great tale.
Annabelle: Creation is a film that exists solely to scare an audience. To that end, I would grudgingly admit that it is moderately successful. I squinted at the screen a few times, and even half-covered my eyes during some intense sequences (I’m a bit of a baby, in spite of my fondness for the dark and macabre).
But by the end of the film, I couldn’t care less about the characters, their situation, or the resolution. I honestly did not care about them at all.
The film tells the origin story of the haunted doll; there was some potential for an interesting story here, but instead we are treated to a short expository sequence that was thrown in to the mix to provide minimal context, and was dealt with in such an expedient manner that it was clear the filmmakers just wanted to move along to the next jumpy bit.
You’d think that the origin of the titular character would be the focus of a film that claims to be its origin story, rather than a rehash of every haunted house and demonic possession film ever made. Feel free to skip this one.
Ryan Mackett is an artist and film enthusiast who resides in Thunder Bay. Email questions or comments to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.