You thought you saw Annabelle’s origin story. You thought you knew how the evil doll came to be evil. Well, it turns out there’s another story that goes back over a decade before the first movie to provide you with another origin story you didn’t even know you needed. Brace yourself for a story so long and convoluted that you’ll need a minute to make sense of it all once it’s finished. Brace yourself for Annabelle: Creation.

This film’s opening scene takes place in 1946 with the death of a little girl – Annabelle (although her parents call her “Bee” in the movie, we learn it’s short for Annabelle). Her father was a toy-maker and had just finished creating the doll that would come to feature in the Annabelle and Conjuring movies. The toy-maker and his wife believe the spirit of their daughter is still in their house, and blindly let the spirit possess the toy-maker’s doll. Of course, this was a trick, as the spirit of their daughter was actually a demon in disguise, resulting in the toy-maker and his wife being in the presence of the demonic Annabelle doll. You might get confused at this point – as was I – since the first Annabelle movie clearly showed the female cult member break into a couple’s house, die, and then bleed into the Annabelle doll, thus creating the evil doll. You’re not wrong, that did happen, but you’ll have to stick around through a sort of arbitrary story before it all starts to make sense. For now, just live with the fact that the filmmakers have provided two very different explanations as to how the doll came to be evil. Trust me, it will make sense in the end.

Jump to 1958, 12 years before the events of the first Annabelle movie. The toy-maker and his wife have now opened up their home as a halfway house of sorts to a Christian church’s all-girl orphanage. It’s not long before some of the girls begin to get nosy and start wandering around the house – Janice in particular. Soon, Janice discovers a room with a closet containing the Annabelle doll. The closet itself is completely surrounded by pages of prayer from the Bible. After she opens the door to the closet, the remainder of the film is nonstop chaos and violence, all perpetrated by this evil doll. When the demon that is possessing the doll realizes it has an opportunity to possess Janice, it does so, and Annabelle (Janice) continues the bloody rampage on the remaining living members of the home.

I will admit that I didn’t have much hope for the movie for a couple of reasons. The first being that this is a sequel and horror sequels often don’t fair too well in comparison to their original counterpart. Secondly, the trailer for this film did not do it justice in the least, but I will admit it was another pleasantly surprising horror film. Granted, there were a couple of scenes that were downright ridiculous, like when we see the spirit of Annabelle standing by the window and it quickly looks to Janice and says “Your soul!” and her face turns all black – that was so stupid. I believe they showed that scene in the trailer and it looked equally ridiculous in the movie. Another scene I found unnecessary and cliche was when the Annabelle doll has the black ooze pouring from its mouth into Janice’s, thus possessing her. I mean, I think we can grasp the concept of the demon possessing someone without this scene, and yet it is one of the most overused scenes in a horror movie. I get it – they want to show the physical transfer of evil, but can’t they come up with a more original way of doing so?

Although this is the first movie in the “Conjuring” universe to not feature Ed or Lorraine Warren, it does feature an inanimate object coming to life to keep in style with the other movies. This time, we are entertained by a Scarecrow coming to life and terrorizing people, although only briefly. I will say I was disappointed they didn’t do more with the Scarecrow like they did with the Nun and the Crooked Man. We get constant glimpses of him in the background, and the scene with the car headlights turning off and on with the Scarecrow in front of the barn was amazing, but after he does come to life we only get a few, short scenes of him as a Scarecrow. After that, he quickly sheds his Scarecrow persona and reveals himself to be just another demon in disguise, or perhaps the same demon? I can’t keep track.

Remember when I said the ending would explain the two origin stories of the evil Annabelle doll? Well, get ready, because here we go. After everyone realizes Janice has been possessed by the demon, they lock her in the closet in which the Annabelle doll was found – the one surrounded by pages of prayers from the Bible – along with the Annabelle doll itself, and then flee the house. This only results in Annabelle (Janice) escaping the house and running away, presumably leaving a now harmless Annabelle doll behind, which we last see thrown into the trunk of a police car. After taking on the identity of Annabelle, Janice infiltrates an orphanage where she is then adopted by the Higgins family – the first family to be killed in the opening scene of the first Annabelle movie – and when the Higgins family comes to adopt Annabelle (Janice), they gift her with a Raggedy-Ann doll (which, for those who aren’t aware, was the doll that the real Annabelle story was based upon). Flash forward to the opening sequence of the first Annabelle movie, where we see Annabelle (Janice) is all grown up and has now joined a murderous cult. She is seen breaking into her adoptive family’s house and killing them before going next door and getting herself killed – wherein her blood runs into the eye of the toy-maker’s doll she is now clutching. Thus, re-possessing the exact same doll that caused all the chaos in the beginning.

Some unanswered questions linger, like what are the odds the neighbors of the Higgins family would come into possession of that same doll from all those years ago? Correct me if I’m wrong, but that doll was last seen in the trunk of a police car over a decade ago, so what are the odds it would wind up right next door to the family that would come to adopt Annabelle (Janice)? And if Annabelle’s (Janice’s) end goal was the murder of her own adoptive family and neighbors, why wait so many years before carrying it out? It’s not like they had some master plan, they literally just broke in and started killing them, almost impulsively. Granted, it did seem odd in the first Annabelle movie that Annabelle (Janice) took an interest in the doll before being killed, so this was a nice way of rounding out that explanation, however overextended it may be.

In the end, the movie had enough suspenseful and scary moments to save it from its flaws. I wouldn’t say it is better than the first Annabelle movie, but I will say it is far more entertaining than most of the garbage horror movies I’ve seen this year.

This movie is…

The films in the Conjuring universe have proven to be quite entertaining, and I hope for more to come!

Cheers and goodnight.