Dolls and clowns have always been at the top of my creepy af list. Maybe I'm just overly sensitive to the uncanny valley phenomenon. Not that I'm special, since there are dozens and dozens of doll or clown horror movies out there.
I saw "The Dolls" at a sleepover when I was 11, and didn't sleep for a week afterward. If you've never seen this, it's an '80s gem, featuring a doll maker who takes in some strangers during a storm. Surprise-- the dolls come to life, running around the big, creepy house, torturing and killing the guests. It leaves nothing to the imagination, as we watch the dolls move around, walk, run, stab, etc. Luckily, Annabelle:Creation takes a more subtle approach. To be honest, I didn't watch the first Annabelle movie, because it looked terrible. So I'm happy to report that "Annabelle:Creation" stands on its own, even as it's technically a prequel and tenuously connected to "The Conjuring" movies.
The director is David F. Sandberg, a guy who started his film-making career with short films, including the brilliant and terrifying zero-budget short, "Lights Out". If you haven't seen this, go find it on the internet right now. It's only like a minute long, and it is terrifying. The pacing, use of the dark, and use of silence and anticipation to scare the shit out viewers is genius. Which is why this guy was then tapped to direct feature length horror, and I'm happy to say that he brings these same elements in. "Annabelle:Creation" is very quiet. It's creeping without being slow. It starts off with a husband and wife who lose their daughter in a terrible accident. Did I mention the husband is a doll maker? He must have been a pretty successful doll maker because they live in a huge house. So huge, that 12 years later they agree to take in a nun and six orphans. Their daughter's room is, of course, locked and off limits. The wife stays in her room all the time. Then this doll shows up. I won't give you any more details. That doll is creepy though. I cannot imagine a child ever wanting to play with it. You never see the doll moving, which makes it that much more terrifying. If Annabelle were shown walking around, talking and showing a full range of facial expressions, a la Chucky, this would be cease to be a scary movie. (No offense to Chucky, who I love). The horror is mostly in what you DON'T see. Fleeting glimpses of *spoiler alert* the demonic presence that's tormenting everyone are the most we get, and thank God for that. I started to worry toward the end that it would go "Insidious" on us, and we'd suddenly see the full body of the demon, which, in my humble opinion, ruins the terror. The best monsters are always skulking around, just out of the corner of your eye.
This was an above average horror movie. It certainly did what it set out to do.
Between "Annabelle:Creation" and "It" coming out in a few weeks, my inner child is sleeping with the lights on.