By Ian Crow

Franchises, you just can’t get away from them. The amount of attempts to create universes within films is still growing at a rapid pace. One universe that is building at an accelerated pace is the Conjuring universe. Starting back on the first film of the Conjuring back in 2013, we have seen a sequel, along with two Annabelle movies. Four years and four movies later, the franchise seems to still be going strong. Hitting a huge snag back in 2014 when Annabelle came out, the franchise looked like it might struggle critically when it was received to very bad reviews. A huge success at the box office made it out to be highly successful. Branding it ‘a monstrosity of modern horror’ and ‘a cash cow of horror movies’ back when I reviewed it in its opening weekend, you could probably tell I wasn’t the biggest fan. Since the announcement of the sequel, safe to say I wasn’t best impressed.

It seems as though Warner Bros. actually look at the outcome of Annabelle. With the huge box office takings the interest is clearly there but lacking a decent story and any originality. Hiring director David F Sandberg was probably the best thing they could have done. The young director behind Lights Out has a fantastic eye for detail and really embraces the style that James Wan has created for this horror franchise. Annabelle Creation is relentless in its attempts to make you jump out of your skin in terror. There is shock and fear in every angle of the screen; you’re never safe whilst watching Annabelle wreak havoc on a bunch of unsuspecting girls.

This film goes back in time to explore the creation of how Annabelle came about. After losing their daughter in an accident, the Mullen’s decide to use their home as a place to take in orphaned girls that are awaiting a home. Straight from the get –go, you can tell everything is not what it seems. I’m honestly surprised that this film turned out to be good. It’s almost good enough for me to completely forget the travesty of the first movie. The groundwork was obviously set out to have a more grounded and Conjuring inspired theme to it. Staying close to the work of James Wan is the best thing anyone can do when tackling material for this new universe. Using practical effects and minimal CGI will keep these kinds of films fresh for many years to come.

Come to think of it, there really isn’t a lot I can honestly think of that I didn’t enjoy about it. It ties in brilliantly well within the franchise, it does subtle nods towards future movies (The Nun) and utilizes Wan’s fantastic and horrifying vision. For me though, the only thing I can think of is that you always know how these films are going to end up. Predictability swarms in towards the last five minutes of the movie and almost takes away all the enjoyment of what you have just experienced. As an overall though, I’m pleasantly surprised how good this is. I can’t find many people out there that hated the first film as much as I did, maybe my counterpart for the site in Morton might have hated as much as I did, but rest assured, this is a lot better. 4 out of 5 stars.