Annabelle: Creation elicits head-scratching, not screams

Prequel to The Conjuring’s spinoff is pointless and stupid – even for an evil doll movie

ANNABELLE: CREATION (David F. Sandberg). 109 minutes. Opens Friday (August 11). See listing. Rating: NN

Like most horror spinoff sequels, Annabelle: Creation is a silly, cheap attempt to cash in on a gimmick.

In this case, the gimmick is the eponymous rosy-cheeked old-timey doll that caused fear in 2013’s The Conjuring and yawns in the quickie 2014 prequel, Annabelle.

This film acts as a further prequel, but it doesn’t really explain where the doll or the demon that possesses it come from. Not that the audience attracted to this kind of film is looking for logic.

There’s a backstory of sorts. In the mid-1940s, dollmaker Samuel (Anthony LaPaglia) and his wife Esther (Miranda Otto) lose their daughter Bee (Samara Lee) in a tragic accident.

Twelve years later, a nun called Sister Charlotte (Stephanie Sigman) and a half-dozen orphaned girls move into the couple’s spacious farmhouse. But eventually one of the orphans hears noises, opens a couple of forbidden doors, and soon lights start blinking on and off, scarecrows start coming to life and that demonic doll begins showing up in places it shouldn’t.

For a film with the subtitle “Creation,” there are huge gaps in this creation story. Even after Otto’s one big dramatic moment – a recitation of her family’s sad story – some key plot points are left dangling.

What’s worse, the pacing is sluggish, especially at the beginning, LaPaglia’s character has nothing to do except look menacing, and Sigman looks less like a nun than an extra from that pool scene in La La Land.

But the younger actors are good, especially the wide-eyed Lulu Wilson, who, after her strong turn in Ouija: Origin Of Evil, is building quite the resume as a scream queen, junior division.

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