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PHIL ON FILM: 'Annabelle: Creation' can't conjure the scares of its predecessors

Posted at 6:47 AM, Aug 11, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-11 14:18:13-04

Someone really needs to introduce Annabelle to Chucky. The murderous dolls were meant for one another, and could crank out some adorably creepy Snaps and Instas.

Even better, maybe if the two found each other they could find fulfillment that their waning movie careers are no longer delivering.

The prequel "Annabelle: Creation" marks the American Girl On Crack's full-on descent into "Child's Play"-style redundancy. An offshoot of "The Conjuring" films, the hybrid franchise now cranks out a new movie just about every year. Previous movies, which claimed to be based on real events, were hit-and-miss but stirred up just enough shocking frights to remain naggingly freaky. 

The new movie turns "doll" to "dull."

Director David F. Sandberg takes on the task to tell Annabelle's origin story, but saves the specifics for a throwaway expository sequence late in the film. Sandberg isn't much interested in explaining how exactly a demon manages to possess a doll, instead focusing on plopping Annabelle into scenes in jump cuts, accompanied by shrill, eardrum-popping violin shrieks.

Her prey is a squad of preteen orphans holed up in a country mansion with a doltish nun (Stephanie Sigman) and vacant-eyed married couple (Anthony LaPaglia and Miranda Otto) who tell the girls there is one room -- Annabelle's -- that they aren't allowed to enter.

No matter how loudly you shout "Don't go in there!" they won't listen.

Once the advice is disobeyed and Annabelle comes out to play, the adults and half the children ignore the ghostly body slams suffered by the protagonists, annoyingly insisting on remaining in the house as things get progressively worse.

What exactly Annabelle is trying to accomplish is never clear. So you have clueless, unmotivated humans pitted against a clueless, unmotivated ghost demon. It's a boring, irritating combination, and the attempts at shock usually come off as unintentionally funny rather than freaky.

Chucky, only you can save Annabelle from further embarrassing and degrading herself. Let's set up a Tinder date or something.

RATING: 1.5 stars out of 4.