Annabelle: Creation Blu-ray Review

'Annabelle: Creation' Blu-ray Review: Superb scares help this superior sequel overcome a rote premise

October 24, 2017Ben Mk





FEATURE: 
For anyone with a fear of clowns, this past summer's remake of Stephen King's It certainly was the stuff nightmares are made of. But what if it's dolls — not face paint, red noses and colored wigs — that strike a sharp pang of terror in your heart? Luckily, there's Annabelle: Creation, the latest installment in the Conjuring universe.


A prequel to 2014's Annabelle, the story revolves around dollmaker Sam Mullins (Anthony LaPaglia) and his wife, Esther (Miranda Otto), once the parents of a 7-year-old daughter whom they lost tragically 12 years earlier. Now the Mullins have transformed their home into an orphanage, welcoming a young nun (Stephanie Sigman) and six girls under their roof. However, when one of the girls (Talitha Bateman) unwittingly stirs something supernatural, the situation turns from hospitable to horrific, as the houseguests find themselves facing an unspeakable evil.

Working from a screenplay by Gary Dauberman, what director David F. Sandberg has achieved here is truly worth lauding. By all accounts, Annabelle: Creation shouldn't be as terrifying as it is; its premise is rote, and its setting even more so. Yet, as with his previous film, the ingeniously effective Lights Out, Sandberg doesn't rely solely on jump scares or clich├ęd horror movie tropes to induce shrieking among his audience, appealing instead to our primal fears, and connecting with moviegoers at a level that demonstrates a genuine reverence for the genre.

For its finale, though, Annabelle: Creation takes a turn into possessed slasher territory. And while the climax proves cathartic, it's somewhat disappointing to see the atmosphere of dread cultivated over the movie's first two-thirds dissipate into a frenzied cacophony of screams. Still, the film manages to finish strong, with its final scenes linking it up directly with Annabelle, and serving as a reminder of which movie is the superior spinoff.

AUDIO & VISUALS: 
Annabelle: Creation scares up a creepy good time on Blu-ray, thanks to its excellent technical presentation. Image quality is sharp and clear, with noticeable fine detail present in the period production design and costumes, and the film's earth-toned color palette is communicated beautifully, with punchy contrast levels to ensure that the scenes of nighttime terror don’t appear overly murky. As for the disc's Dolby Atmos sound mix, dialogue can sometimes benefit from a boost in volume, especially in comparison with the jolt-inducing, discordant string harmonies of the score, but rest assured, every shriek, demonic whisper and ghostly footstep comes through loud and clear.


EXTRAS: 
Warner's two-disc Blu-ray combo pack includes an UltraViolet digital copy, a DVD and the following Blu-ray extras:

  • Deleted Scenes Featurette (12:04) - Director David F. Sandberg provides his commentary for a montage of deleted scenes from the film.
  • Directing Annabelle: Creation (42:21) - Sandberg shares with viewers some insight about his work as a director, from how his role intersects with those of the other members of the crew and the guidance he provides his actors, to a typical day on the set, the editing process and more.
  • The Conjuring Universe (4:51) - Filmmaker James Wan kicks off this featurette about the first Conjuring movie, the cinematic universe it has spawned, where Annabelle: Creation fits in, and where the franchise goes from here.
  • Horror Shorts (6:19) - Two of Sandberg's short films ("Attic Panic" and "Coffer").
  • Commentary - Sandberg opens up about the process of making the film, including the pros and cons of shooting on-location, the visual effects and the production design, the actors and their performances, and more.


Annabelle: Creation is available from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment as of October 24, 2017. The Blu-ray features English Dolby Atmos, French, Spanish and Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1, and English Dolby Digital 5.1 Descriptive Audio tracks. The film is presented with English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles. The total runtime is 1 hr. 49 min.






* Reviewer's note: Portions of this Blu-ray review were adapted from my original review of the theatrical release, published on August 10th, 2017.



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