A certain stigma is attached to horror films nowadays, acutely due to the inevitable lack of ‘horror’ within them. However, I would now argue that Sandberg may have just cracked the code and directed a film that essentially triumphs in this genre of film making.
The original Annabelle that premiered in 2014 left audiences with an array of unanswered questions; where did Annabelle come from? What happened to her? Who even was she? These questions soon became answered.
The narrative initially focuses on the life of the young girl, Annabelle, who lives with her parents in a house that stands alone amongst a desert landscape. Not long into the film, Annabelle is killed in a car crash. Twelve years on and still grieving over the loss of their young daughter, the Mullins invite a girl’s orphanage to stay with them. Both Samuel and Esther Mullins instantly regret this decision as the arrival of the girls awakens a certain unwanted and powerful entity that possesses the infamous porcelain doll known as Annabelle herself.
As a prequel to the previous Annabelle, the film is a healthy fourth instalment to compliment the Conjuring franchise. The movie scored a respectable 7/10 from IMDB and 67% from Rotten Tomatoes. Sandberg achieves such reputable ratings through his particularly anticipating approach to editing and collection of hair-raising shots. The chilling cinematography keeps audiences alert and, quite literally, on the edge of their seat.
Sandberg’s excessive use of silence throughout the film captures the audience’s attention forcing them to listen, in doing so it involves an intensification of apprehension and curiosity. To then be followed by an indefinite dramatic jump scare. He manipulates frames in such a way audiences are obligated to search for any traces of movement compelling viewers to keep their eyes on the screen always. Additionally, the actors/actresses soft dialogue encourages spectators to almost lean in to catch on with what is happening, resulting in an increase of the audience’s vulnerability regarding the next oncoming jump scare.
There are moments in the film where the script, composed by writer Gary Dauberman, seems lazy. The fact the young girls persist on entering the forbidden room even when confronted by Mr Mullin and told never to go inside, comes across as quite cliché. Not exactly unexpected, is it? Whilst, the
script itself doesn’t give the actresses/actors much material to work with. Nevertheless, the two young actress’s performances in the film, Talitha Bateman and Lulu Wilson, is something that should most definitely be applauded. Although, at times having to adhere to such a trivial script, they successfully executed an admiral performance of terror and trepidation throughout the story.
Undoubtedly, the film is engaging and entertaining to watch and makes for a worthy addition to the Conjuring franchise, perhaps one of the best chapters yet.
One last thing, I would highly recommend avoiding watching the film alone…
3 out of 5 Stars.