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Horror Movie Review: Annabelle Creation and It

ANNABELLE: CREATION

Demonic creatures crawling out of wells, crucifixes turning upside down and the possession of small children — what else would you expect from the prequel to “Annabelle?”

The movie, “Annabelle: Creation,” is the second addition to the spinoff series of “The Conjuring,” where the infamous doll made a cameo in 2013. Overall, the movie was entertaining and had an eerie feel, but it fell into the same subgenre that all horror movies seem to these days: people move into a new home, they get haunted by some sort of supernatural being, they move out.

Our story begins in a Californian farmstead, which is home to Samuel Mullins, a dollmaker, and his family. His beloved daughter, Bee, is tragically hit by a car and dies. At this exact moment, I knew this girl would soon become the soul that inhabits Annabelle, the sinister doll constructed by Samuel—without the intention of it becoming possessed, of course.

Twelve years later, the Mullins open their home to a group of orphan girls and their caretaker, Sister Charlotte. Janice, who is weakened by polio, is the first to stir up trouble with the paranormal. She decides to creep into a forbidden room with the door ajar in the middle of the night, even though it has been locked for years. Has she never seen any horror film, ever?

From this point forward, the movie is chock-full of so many horror cliches it hurts: flickering lights, footsteps in the middle of the night and way too many jump scares — the type that any horror-movie-regular could spot from a mile away.

To top it off, Janice’s sidekick, Linda, throws a ball at Annabelle’s face to taunt her. Big mistake. The demonic doll’s head does a 180 while Linda is turned away, and ends up terrorizing the home and the orphaned girls that inhabit it. And unfortunately, the fact that I could predict this turn of events, and many to follow, is where the film falls short.

However, my favorite aspect was how the movie made references to The Conjuring films and tied back to the original “Annabelle.” Evil entities that fans of the series have come to know and fear pop up and are weaved into the narrative, like Valak the nun, an icon from “The Conjuring 2.” And if you watch the scene following the end credits closely, you’ll notice that the opening scene from “Annabelle” is occurring in the background of “Creation.”

Although predictable at times, there’s a reason filmmakers keep coming back to fear tactics like jump scares: they really do work. I can admittedly say I was terrified to sleep alone in my room, where my mom coincidentally decides to keep my sister’s old American Girl Dolls. I could feel their beady eyes staring at me all night long, just waiting to make my soul their next victim.

***I’d like to note that although my doll counterpart of the same name ended up getting deemed back to hell, I’m still perfectly alive and attending Shawnee Mission East!

 

IT

Around this time last year, videos were going viral on Twitter of clowns chasing people with chainsaws in the middle of the night. If that wasn’t enough to make you never want to visit the circus again, something even freakier is in store: Pennywise the Clown. “It” is now taking on the silver screen, based on Stephen King’s 1986 novel of the same name and the 1990 miniseries.

The film opens in 1989 with Georgie, a young boy in the town of Derry, Maine, chasing his paper sailboat in the rain. When it sails into a storm drain, it falls into the hands of It, who introduces himself saying “I’m Pennywise the Dancing Clown,” in a bone-chilling, childlike tone. Poor little Georgie ends up getting his arm bitten off and pulled into the sewer to live with Pennywise — home sweet home!

And so it begins. It, whose presence is marked by an ominous red balloon, plays mind games on a gang of misfit kids who seem to be straight out of “The Goonies”. To trick them into their own deaths, Pennywise makes their worst nightmares into realities: an eerie painting comes to life, blood volcanoes out of the sink, and a room full of clown statues give menacing stares.

The boys (and a single girl, Beverly) bring back the 80s nostalgia that audience members are bound to love, complete with references to New Kids on the Block and plenty of “your mom” jokes. But Pennywise is the true star of the film. He alone made “It” one of the most disturbing movies I’ve ever seen — and that’s saying alot because “Hostel” and “Human Centipede” have also made the list.  

But after every appearance of It, as terrifying as he was, I was confused about his true form. He takes on the guise of Pennywise the Clown, but his 7-foot-plus stature, glowing yellow eyes, shape-shifting properties and immortality tell me he’s not a human. The film also never went in-depth about the origin story of Pennywise, which I consider a highlight of every horror movie.

Even if there was some murky water when it came to character backstories, the movie is sure to become a horror genre staple, joining the ranks of “Friday the 13th” and the original “It” movie. Every scene of Pennywise terrorizing the children of Derry had me cowering behind my blanket—the one I always bring to horror movies. Let’s just say after “It,” I won’t be going anywhere near a children’s birthday party anytime soon.

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Annabelle Cook

Annabelle Cook is the Assistant Online Editor as well as the spread designer for the print publication. In her 4th semester on staff, she has developed content for the online, social media, and print platforms and won awards at NSPA/JEA National Conventions. Outside of Harbinger, she is apart of Track & Field and Junior Board. Read Full »

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