In August 2017, Warner Bros. Pictures and New Line Cinema released the prequel to the hit horror movie Annabelle, which went on to gross over $84 million. Annabelle: Creation topped that film’s success with $102 million, cementing the success of what has now become The Conjuring Universe, almost assuring success of the next film spun off from The Conjuring 2 featuring the demonic nun character.
We won’t rehash our original review of Annabelle: Creation because there’s nothing that’s really changed in how the film plays on the small screen. Watching the movie again I was able to determine for sure that we never actually see the doll move (until the director pulls a fast one during the last shot of the doll before the credits roll). Yes, Annabelle is seen in different positions throughout the movie, but we and the characters never actually see it move. And that’s a good thing. It’s more unnerving to notice an inanimate object in a different position than when you last looked at it, even when it’s just a few seconds later. What is also great about the film, aside from the story and performances, is how it deftly ties in to the original movie at the end by using some newly shot footage and combining it with the existing film’s opening scene. And the little hint at the nun’s movie was clever too (and there is a Marvel-style post-credits tease as well).
Annabelle: Creation is a good film to watch with all the lights off with a group of friends or just someone you want to hold on to. The new Blu-ray presents the film in sharp 1080p high def resolution with great details that reveal strands of hair and smoke used to give some scenes atmosphere (so much so that it actually bothers the director). The Dolby TrueHD 7.1 audio track is used to great effect, allowing sounds and sometimes ghostly voices to come from various parts of the room, giving the viewer even more to make their skin crawl. Main dialog is also clear, front and center when it needs to be.
For such a successful film, the extras are very good but not great, at least as far as quantity. The Blu-ray includes:
- Deleted Scenes Featurette (12:01) gives us an insider’s look at several deleted scenes as director David S. Sandberg narrates why the scenes were cut, a nice little bonus rather than just a collection of random scenes with no context.
- Directing Annabelle: Creation (42:19) – Self described “weird Swede with permanent bitch face” director Sandberg talks to the camera and explains how he learned filmmaking from watching DVD bonus features, and this is his attempt to go one further by using behind-the-scenes footage to illustrate his craft. It’s a noble attempt, and he and the studio score points for doing this, but it becomes a tad tedious after a while when Sandberg stops talking and just lets the footage run, which wasn’t actually mic’d so the audio level is much lower than his speaking. It’s interesting to see how things work, but he should have kept talking to explain what we were seeing.
- The Conjuring Universe (4:49) – A brief publicity piece with James Wan and others talking about how the current films all fit together.
- Horror Shorts – Two 3-minute shorts from the director starring his wife. One, Attic Panic, has some moments that influenced both Sandberg’s Lights Out and Annabelle: Creation.
- Director’s Commentary – A feature-length commentary which allows Sandberg to discuss more of how the film was made and why things were cut. It’s interesting to hear how the film was pieced together with some later scenes being moved to earlier in the film and how they had to alter dialog to make it fit, and how many scenes contain undetectable CGI (like curtains!), his disdain for the smoky atmosphere, and how some of the shots were created. A very informative track for movie buffs but it may become a bit tedious for others as it’s just Sandberg droning on for almost two hours.
Overall, if you’re a fan of The Conjuring films, you’ll enjoy Annabelle: Creation, even if you didn’t think the first one was all that great (count me as one of those people). Best of all, you don’t have to have seen the first one to enjoy this one, but you can make it a double feature and watch them in actual chronological order followed by the original The Conjuring!
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment generously provided Hotchka with a Blu-ray of the film for reviewing purposes.