Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||David F. Sandberg|
|Written by||Gary Dauberman|
|Music by||Benjamin Wallfisch|
|Edited by||Michel Aller|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|Box office||$306.5 million|
Annabelle: Creation is a 2017 American supernatural horror film directed by David F. Sandberg and written by Gary Dauberman. It is a prequel to 2014's Annabelle and the fourth installment in The Conjuring series. The film stars Stephanie Sigman, Talitha Bateman, Anthony LaPaglia, and Miranda Otto, and depicts the possessed Annabelle doll's origin.
Annabelle: Creation premiered at the LA Film Festival on June 19, 2017, and was theatrically released in the United States on August 11, 2017. The film has grossed over $305 million worldwide and received generally positive reviews from critics, who praised the atmosphere and acting, and noted it as an improvement over its predecessor. A sequel is set to be released in 2019.
In 1943, dollmaker Samuel Mullins and his wife Esther grieve for the loss of their seven-year-old daughter Annabelle "Bee", who was killed in a car accident.
Twelve years later, in 1955, the Mullins open their home to provide shelter for Sister Charlotte and six girls left homeless by the closing of their orphanage. Despite having been told not to enter Bee's locked bedroom, Janice, a young orphan crippled by polio, is awakened by a noise, discovers a note saying "find me", and sneaks into the room, which has mysteriously become unlocked. She finds a key for Bee's closet and unlocks it, where she sees an eerie porcelain doll. This unwittingly releases a powerful demon, who begins to terrorize the girls, displaying a special interest in Janice.
On the second night, the demon continues to torment Janice, revealing its true form and declaring that it wants "her soul". Although she attempts to get away using a stairlift, she is left severely injured when caught by the demon and thrown from the second floor landing to the first floor. Janice is now confined to a wheelchair and she tells Sister Charlotte about the demon but Sister Charlotte dismisses it. The night after the incident, she sleeps in a different room from Linda, who is tormented by the demon. The next morning, Janice is dragged into a shed. The demon, taking Bee's form, successfully possesses her. One of the other orphans, Janice's best friend Linda, notices changes in her behavior and admits to Samuel that Janice had snuck into Bee's room and found the doll two nights earlier. Shortly after Linda's revelation, the possessed Janice, who can now walk, transforms into the demon and brutally kills Samuel.
Linda walks in to where Janice was sleeping and sees the creepy doll by her side. She throws it into the well, with Sister Charlotte noticing her. A strange noise comes out of the well and Linda is almost dragged into it but Sister Charlotte manages to save her. Alarmed, Sister Charlotte speaks with the disfigured Esther, who is confined to her bedroom. Esther explains that after Bee's death, they prayed to whatever entity would grant their wish to see their daughter again. An unknown entity answered their prayer and though they briefly see Bee's spirit again, the entity convinces them to transfer its essence into one of Samuel's crafted porcelain dolls. They happily agree but soon realise that they have attracted a demon looking for a human host. One night, Esther sees Bee's spirit, along with the porcelain doll, transforming into the demon, who gouges out her left eye. Enlisting the help of priests to bless both the room and the house, they take the doll to Bee's room and lock it in a closet wallpapered with pages from the Bible. Esther then reveals that she and Samuel opened their house as a shelter for the orphans to repent of their dealings but now regrets it, since she realises that this has provided an opportunity for the demon to look for a human host.
The demon crucifies Esther and bisects her body and slams Sister Charlotte against the wall, prompting the other orphans to leave the house. Linda is trapped in the house and hides in Bee's room as the possessed Janice tries to stab her. Sister Charlotte recovers and locks the possessed Janice and the doll inside the closet. The next day, police arrive to search the house and its surroundings and find only the doll inside the bedroom closet, which they remove as evidence. Janice has escaped through a hole in the closet wall and relocates to an orphanage in Santa Monica. Still possessed, she becomes reclusive and calls herself Annabelle. The Higgins family soon adopt Annabelle.
Twelve years later, in 1967, a grown up Annabelle joins a Satanic cult and, along with her boyfriend, murders her adoptive parents in their bedroom, which catches the attention of their next door neighbors, The Forms, setting up the events of Annabelle.
- Stephanie Sigman as Sister Charlotte
- Talitha Bateman as Janice
- Tree O'Toole as adult Janice / Annabelle Higgins
- Lulu Wilson as Linda
- Anthony LaPaglia as Samuel Mullins
- Miranda Otto as Esther Mullins
- Alicia Vela-Bailey as Evil Esther Mullins
- Grace Fulton as Carol
- Philippa Coulthard as Nancy
- Samara Lee as Annabelle "Bee" Mullins
- Tayler Buck as Kate
- Lou Lou Safran as Tierney
- Mark Bramhall as Father Massey
- Adam Bartley as Officer Fuller
- Lotta Losten as the adoption agent
- Joseph Bishara as Annabelle Demon
- Fred Tatasciore as Demon Voice
- Brian Howe as Pete Higgins
- Kerry O'Malley as Sharon Higgins
- Annabelle Wallis as Mia Form (cameo, archive footage)
- Ward Horton as John Form (cameo, archive footage)
- Bonnie Aarons as Valak / Demon Nun (uncredited)
In October 2015, it was confirmed that an Annabelle sequel was in development. David F. Sandberg replaced Annabelle's John R. Leonetti as the sequel's director in March 2016. He has described himself as a fan of the franchise, especially the first one, since they were "more of a classic, old-school horror movie in many ways." James Wan and New Line Cinema approached Sandberg to helm the sequel during the post-production on Lights Out, after they were impressed by the early cuts of the film. Sandberg and Wan had met each other during production of Lights Out, as the movie was produced by Wan's Atomic Monster Productions. Sandberg did not want to direct another formulaic horror sequel, but after reading the script and realising how it deviated from the first film, he agreed to direct it. He was attracted to it as it was a standalone film, as a result of which he had more creative freedom. The fact that it was a period piece made it more appealing to him. The first film's screenwriter, Gary Dauberman, returned to write the script, with Peter Safran and James Wan returning to produce. In March 2017, Sandberg revealed the film would be a prequel to the original Annabelle film, and titled Annabelle: Creation.
Sandberg drew references from the look of the 1963 psychological horror film The Haunting, due to its use of CinemaScope cinematography, and cited the score of The Shining to be the biggest inspiration for the film's chilling music. He also borrowed inspiration from the "old school" feel of The Conjuring. He decided he would rely upon tension and suspense, as opposed to jump scares. Unlike his debut film Lights Out, in which he meticulously crafted each scene beforehand, Sandberg had a different approach to Annabelle: Creation. With Annabelle he "was inspired by the set and moment" and so did not prepare with extensive storyboards or diagrams, instead relying on the mantra, "We'll figure it out on set together. We'll make it work."
Sandberg softened some of Annabelle's features to make her more believable as a child's toy, having the cheeks filled-out and fixing her overbite. He found shooting with the doll challenging since the object was immobile, and he needed to use other objects – such as a sheet – to make her move around. Father Robert was a consultant on the film.
In June 2016, Talitha Bateman, Miranda Otto, and Stephanie Sigman were cast to star in the film. Bateman and fellow child actresses Lulu Wilson and Samara Lee had all seen The Exorcist, and Samara was named after Samara Morgan from The Ring, so despite working on a horror movie, none of the young actresses were disturbed by the film's subject, although some of them did state that they were unsettled by the doll. They said that they did not feel tension or fear throughout production, and Sandberg remarked that the only challenge in working with them was restrictions in terms of hours on the set – such as they cannot work after midnight and work overtime – since they were under age. Bateman was one of the actresses that James Wan had considered for the role of Janet in The Conjuring 2. However, the part eventually went to Madison Wolfe. Since the script demanded a group of children, they brought Bateman in to audition, having been impressed by her screen tests previously. Her brother, Gabriel Bateman, starred in Sandberg's Lights Out. Wilson auditioned for the role of Linda because she wanted to play a horror protagonist, having played an antagonist in Ouija: Origin of Evil. Creation marks her third time starring in a horror film, following Deliver Us from Evil and Ouija.
Anthony LaPaglia agreed to star in the film after his 14-year-old daughter overheard him talking on the phone about the movie, and responded enthusiastically to her father taking the role. He has described his character as "a mysterious, quiet-yet-gruff man who is mourning both the loss of his daughter and the medical degeneration of his wife. The young orphans who move into the now-dilapidated house fear him." To get into character, he did not mingle with the young actresses very much on set. He would intentionally distance himself from them so that during filming they would naturally not like him very much.
Principal photography began on June 27, 2016, in Los Angeles, California, at the Warner Bros. Studios, Burbank lot, and concluded on August 15, 2016. Sandberg decided to use Steadicam and tracking shots, because of the film's period setting, and he wanted to maintain the "old school" feel of the first two The Conjuring films. According to Sandberg, he does not believe in ghosts or demonic entities, saying, "I haven't experienced anything in life that would lead me to believe they exist". Sandberg reported that actress Stephanie Sigman, who played Sister Charlotte, was "a little bit freaked out by that doll" and, after hearing that a priest had blessed the set of The Conjuring 2, requested the same ritual be performed for this film.
The film was originally set for release on May 19, 2017. But was pushed back from its original release date of May 19, 2017 to August 11, 2017, to avoid competition with Alien: Covenant. The film premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival on June 19, 2017.
The film was released on Digital HD on October 17, 2017, and on Blu-ray and DVD on October 24, 2017.
Annabelle: Creation grossed $102.1 million in the United States and Canada and $204.4 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $306.5 million, against a production budget of $15 million. With its release, it pushed The Conjuring franchise past the $1 billion threshold, making it only the third horror series to cross that mark, after the Alien franchise and Resident Evil series. Deadline Hollywood calculated the film made a net profit of $108.7 million, when factoring together all expenses and revenues.
In North America, the film was released alongside The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature and The Glass Castle, and was projected to gross around $30 million from 3,502 theaters in its opening weekend. The film grossed $4 million from its Thursday night previews, the highest of The Conjuring series and double the original Annabelle's $2.1 million. It went on to open to $35 million, the lowest of the series, but still topping the box office. In its second weekend, the film dropped 55.7% to earn another $15.5 million, which was a smaller second-weekend drop than Annabelle (57%) and The Conjuring 2 (63%), and the best second-weekend hold of the franchise since the initial Conjuring film (46%).
Outside North America, the film was released to positive reception from international audiences, which is reflected in its box office performance. It broke several opening records for the horror genre as well as for the studio and came in ahead of The Conjuring and Annabelle in many markets. The week prior to its domestic release, the film debuted in Italy at number one, with $1.1 million. It earned $35.4 million on its opening weekend from 39 markets, almost on par with its domestic debut and marking the second biggest international opening in the franchise, behind only The Conjuring 2. Overall, the film was number two at the international box office after Wolf Warriors 2. The film expanded to 56 markets in its sophomore weekend, adding a handful of major markets and thereby topping the worldwide chart for the first time with an estimated $42 million.
It recorded the highest opening weekend in the franchise in 26 markets and the biggest launch for a horror film of all time in Sweden, Poland, Portugal, India, Malaysia ($2.2 million), the UAE ($1.1 million) and Vietnam. The top openings came from Mexico ($8 million), Korea ($6.7 million), and India ($9.8 million). In South Korea, the film grossed $1.2 million from Thursday previews. Despite its South Korean release falling during diplomatic tensions, it ultimately opened there with $6.7 million, as the number one foreign release and the third highest-grossing movie overall behind local films A Taxi Driver and Midnight Runners.
On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 70% based on 158 reviews, with an average rating of 6.2/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Annabelle: Creation adds another strong chapter to the Conjuring franchise–and offers further proof that freaky-looking dolls remain reliably terrifying." Metacritic, another review aggregator, assigned the film a weighted average score of 62 out of 100, based on 29 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale, the same score earned by the first Annabelle film.
Justin Lowe of The Hollywood Reporter called it "wickedly terrifying," and said it was "closer in tone and old-school psychological fright tactics to the original film than either The Conjuring 2 or Annabelle." Peter Debruge of Variety, while criticising the plot, said the film nevertheless "manages to conjure some effective scares," and that "this effective yet empty-headed horror movie goes to show how eager audiences are to be scared, and how even an unsightly doll can do the trick when the spirit is willing." Similarly, Chris Hewitt of Empire felt that while the "movie can't hold a flickering candle to the James Wan-directed entries in the series... it's got plenty of decent shocks, and the odd genuine surprise, up its sleeve." However, Emily Yoshida of Vulture wrote that "Annabelle: Creation’s countless sequences of foreboding silence—hands reaching for doorknobs, our heroines shuddering in the dark, waiting for their demonic tormentor to attack—offer nothing to really latch on to, no larger reason to care that’s not purely technical". Chris Nashawaty of Entertainment Weekly gave the film a "C" grade, calling it "a mishmash of clichés and nonsense" and writing that "none of this will seem new to horror fans".
|2017||Golden Trailer Awards||Best Horror||New Line Cinema
|2018||MTV Movie & TV Awards||Most Frightened Performance||Talitha Bateman||Nominated|
|Saturn Awards||Best Horror Film||Warner Bros.
New Line Cinema
In April 2018, Warner Bros. announced July 3, 2019, as the release date for an as-yet untitled new film in The Conjuring franchise. Later that month it was announced that the film will be a third Annabelle film, with Gary Dauberman signed on to write and direct, in his directorial debut. James Wan and Peter Safran will co-produce the project.
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