BLU-RAY REVIEW: ANNABELLE - CREATION
Anabelle Creation is a tense, taught horror that digs its claws in right from the start, and doesn’t let go until the credits are rolling
Set for the most part in 1955, Annabelle Creation picks up twelve years after toymaker Sam Mullins and his wife, Esther lose their daughter Annabelle in a road accident.
In what appears to be both an attempt to heal and to give them a sense of purpose The Mullins welcome six orphaned girls into their home.
After one of the orphans discovers a doll that Sam Mullins created for his daughter Anabelle, sinister events start plaguing the household while Janice fights for her very soul.
I’m not entirely convinced the first Annabelle movie deserved all of the criticism it received. While Annabelle was nothing special, it was a decent enough horror movie in its own right. When, however, you’re riding on the coat tails of the excellent The Conjuring which came out the year preceding Anabelle, it’s hard not to draw comparisons.
Not content to let sleeping dolls lie, Newline decided to revisit the Anabelle storyline some three years later, with Annabelle Creation. This time, the franchise wasn’t taking any risks, appointing Lights Out director David Sandberg to direct the newest chapter in The Conjuring universe.
This time around they got things right, creating a film that is both downright scary and lives up to its Conjuring moniker.
As the Warner Brothers logo first appears, you’re faced with the discordant blare of Trumpets that heralds the start of all ‘Conjuring’ movies. The feeling of unease and dread starts here, and it only gets worse (or better?) from there …
Annabelle Creation is an exhausting watch, leaving you on the edge of your seat for the vast majority of its 1 hour 50-minute run-time. Therein lies my only real beef with Annabelle Creation, you don’t get the chance to catch your breath.
Rather than giving the audience time to rest, the movie takes you from scare to scare, each more intense than those before it.
But there's the rub; the fact that Annabelle Creation doesn’t let up is what makes it such a successful horror film. A fan of horror flicks since my youth, I was left feeling like I wanted to curl up in a ball and watch The Mermaid’s Tale.
Not only is it chock-full of Halloween worthy jump scares and creepiness, but it also has a cleverly crafted story-line. Given the poor reception that Annabelle received, it would have been easy for the Creation to distance themselves from the original as much as possible.
Indeed, given the period in which Annabelle Creation is set, it feels precisely like that is what’s been done. However, the ending rewards you with a twist that expertly dovetails the two films. It’s executed so cleverly, that it warrants a re-watch of Annabelle… right after the Mermaid’s Tale that is!
Shot in an aspect ratio of 2.39, the overall colour tone of the film tends to favour golden hues, during the day-time, which borders on sepia.
Although detail is abundant and the image can be sharp, Anabelle Creation favours a somewhat ‘old-world’ look. This is enhanced further by the use of grain, added in post-production
Annabelle Creation doesn’t favour style over substance, however, the overall look of the film is never distracting, instead it gives a sense of authenticity that enhances the story-telling.
From skin-tones to the dry countryside surrounding the farmhouse, colour is faithfully portrayed, although somewhat muted.
On the add occasion, contrast comes close to being intentionally blown-out. Likewise, blacks are deep and dark, and for the most part, there's plenty of shadow detail. Blacks are clipped both sparingly and deliberately which also enhances the story-telling.
With my projector producing a reasonably faithful 2.3 gamma curve, the SDR Blu-ray picture produced a pleasing sense of dimensionality.
Anabelle Creation’s excellent video transfer is accompanied by an equally capable Dolby Atmos (Dolby True HD 7.1 at 48kbs per second ) soundtrack which has been expertly crafted to enhance the storytelling.
It's a soundtrack which wastes no time in conveying the overall mood of the film. As the Warner Brother’s logo appears, the aforementioned sounds of discordant trumpets help carry the sense of foreboding and dread.
While the soundtrack is extremely effective at doing its job, for much of the film the soundstage is limited to the front speakers and often focused on the centre speaker.
The surround and overhead speakers are called into play sparingly. This enhances environmental cues and the film’s score, even if the soundtrack often comes across as a little ‘quiet’, particularly early on.
Despite this, vocals remained clear and intelligible throughout the film.
Be warned though, the quietness of the soundtrack can lull you into a false sense of security. Just like Annabelle, the Dolby Atmos soundtrack has a knack of creeping up on you.
During the film’s scarier moments, the sound spreads to take full advantage of all the speakers at's disposal for a truly immersive experience. The soundtrack is dynamic, reinforcing the abundant jump scares with more than enough bass to keep your sub(s) busy.
Overall, a great follow-up to Annabelle, and the perfect film to break-out this Halloween.
You can buy Annabelle Creation here.
As the owner of Adelaide based ‘Clarity Audio & Video Calibration’, Tony is a certified ISF Calibrator. Tony is an accomplished Audio-Visual reviewer specialising in theatre and visual products.