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If some light deja vu is the price horror fans must pay for a mainstream offering this spine-tingling, most will still come away feeling spooked and satisfied.
Closer in tone and old-school psychological fright tactics to the original film than either The Conjuring 2 or Annabelle, David F. Sandberg’s incisive approach capably resets the franchise.
Annabelle: Creation is a professional jitters-fest, made with deep-seated esteem for the genre rather than cynicism about a box-office sure thing.
Here, Sandberg once again plays with both lighting, composition and suspense, framing shots in such a way that we’re constantly searching the shadows for hints of movement, while drawing out scenes for maximum tension.
Annabelle: Creation is the rare horror sequel that improves upon the original, featuring more engaging protagonists and a far less problematic ending.
If anything can happen (and, trust me, it does), then there’s never a way of predicting where the next scare will come from. And for a genre that oftentimes feels threadbare and hopelessly predictable, this cannot be commended enough.
The demon doll from the Conjuring movies remains creepy, even if this prequel feels occasionally wooden.
There are “gotcha” jolts that definitely got me, but for each of those, there must be a half-dozen scares telegraphed in very large letters. I think Annabelle: Creation is suffering from sequelitis.
If you can’t get more than just a taste of terror from throwing half a dozen orphans into a haunted house, maybe your “universe” isn’t expanding at all and your “Creation” has run its course.
It’s maddeningly unclear sometimes, the whole doll/possession/ghost story, as the filmmakers play extremely loose with the film’s internal logic. Couple that with the stale scent of well-worn dialogue. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.

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