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MOVIE REVIEW: "Annabelle: Creation"

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One of my most memorable moviegoing experiences was seeing James Wan’s Insidious opening night. I knew nothing about it and went just to get out of the house on a Friday. By the time a red demon peaked behind Patrick Wilson’s head, audience members were screaming absolute bloody murder, running down the stairs, completely leaving the theater and then coming back to grab their friends. Then there was my friend and me, who sat motionlessly and pondering on what movie everyone else was watching. A woman sitting next to me asked if anything was wrong with me because I wasn’t screaming. “Because it’s not scary,” I said. It showed me that I’m not the audience for these types of horror movies. But seven years removed from this experience and I can’t tell why audiences continue to shell out money for the carbon copy films every year.

James Wan is basically a very successful used car salesmen at this point. You know he’s about to sell you the same pitch every time, but people keep going expecting something different. It’s not surprising he was tapped for Furious 7 and is directing Aquaman, both from two franchises that make their bread feeding their audience humdrum garbage. He laid the blueprint for basic jump scare horror with Insidiousand now inspires studios to throw dimes and nickels on directors to spend on loud noises and creaking floorboards. Flooding the market with sequels and prequels… and even prequels to prequels now. Annabelle: Creation is a prequel to the prequel of The Conjuring, Annabelle. The Conjuring has spawn a sequel with another in the works with two more spin-offs underway. So I guess horror movies aren’t impervious to extended universes either now?

Samuel Mullins (Anthony LaPaglia) is a dollmaker living in the 1940s with his wife, Esther (Miranda Otto), and daughter Annabelle (Samara Lee). By running in front of a speeding car, Annabelle is no more and Samuel and Esther go into mourning for 12 years. To fill the void Annabelle left, the Mullins turn their house into a temporary shelter for Sister Charlotte (Stephanie Sigman) and a few girls from a closed orphanage. Janice (Tabitha Bateman) and Linda (Lulu Wilson) are the most prominent of the girls and consider themselves pseudo sisters. Bound to a crutch for an unexplained left leg disability, Janice is inquisitive of a door that Samuel Mullins keeps locked no matter what. Curiosity stumps Janice one night as she enters the room and lets loose a doll that harbors supernatural evil as well as the spirit of Annabelle.

As soon as Katie got drug down the hallway in Paranormal Activity is the moment I knew that this film was about to make massive waves in Hollywood. It was a terrifying experience that kept me up a few nights after first viewing it. Instead of leaving it alone and making another property, Hollywood had to pump out 5 unscary sequels and prequels to it. The original film is now buried under the pile of ripoffs and rehashes that soon took its formula.

Remember the comment about film studios shoveling the same shit into audience’s laps with a pretty new bow on it? Insidiousand its sequel, The Conjuring and its sequel, Oculus, all six Paranormal Activityfilms, Annabelleand this new prequel, all have the same exact premise, story structure, points of planned scares and ending. A majority of these films are put out by Blumhouse, a production company that specializes in making cheap horror films and selling them to bigger studios.

All of them have a plot of a family moving into a new house, a curious child that hears weird noises, adults that don’t believe them, it amplifies until the adults notices, curious party reaches out to some sort of professionals or the like who will spend the end of the second act spitting that fire exposition that removes any horror from the concept, it ends happily ever after until the monster is revealed to not be dead.

Creation is no different. Its scares didn’t even work on the full audience I saw it with. No real tension because you know it’s false scares set around the sound dropping out and burst of noise jolting the audience. This trend is not ending anytime soon. Audiences will keep going. Money will keep getting made. Studios will keep swimming in said money, Scrooge McDuck style. All of this in the same year a completely original horror film like Get Out can make over $250 million on a $4.5 million budget, but we keep getting Haunted House 38 instead.

Horror directors need to learn the difference between scary and creepy. It’s easy to quickly scare someone and make them scream. There’s no skill in that at all. To make something creepy is to develop ideas that can uncover fears that will strike at an audience and continue to make their skin crawl. It takes a creative mind to creep, but it only takes an opportunist to scare.

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About the Author

Kevin Tudor

Born and raised in the mean streets of Yukon, Oklahoma, Kevin is currently majoring in...

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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