A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Annabelle: Creation is a horror movie that's part of the Conjuring franchise. It takes place before the events of Annabelle and The Conjuring. Expect lots of scary stuff, including a creepy doll, demons, ghosts, scary sounds, and objects and people suddenly moving. Characters die, and there are gory wounds and/or bodily injuries: A woman's body is torn in half, and she's hung on a wall. A little girl is hit by a car. Language is very minor, with a use of "damn," as well as faith-based uses of "Jesus," "Jesus Christ," and "hell." Sex and substance use aren't issues. Overall, this sequel seems slightly milder than its predecessors, though it's still plenty scary, and horror hounds who flocked to the other three movies in the series will most certainly want to see it.
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What's the story?
In ANNABELLE: CREATION, toymaker Samuel Mullins (Anthony LaPaglia) lovingly creates the spooky doll that will later go on to cause trouble in Annabelle and The Conjuring. Just when things seem to be going well, Samuel and his wife, Esther (Miranda Otto), lose their young daughter, Bee, in an accident. A dozen years later, Samuel decides to open his home to a group of orphaned girls, including Janice (Talitha Bateman), who suffers from polio, and her best friend, Linda (Lulu Wilson). Janice is immediately fascinated by a forbidden room and enters. Something draws her toward a door, and she opens it, finding the doll. From that moment on, terrifying things start happening in the house, from scary noises to things moving around by themselves. But when the threat grows worse, it's time to get out.
Is it any good?
Director David F. Sandberg takes on this fourth film in the Conjuring franchise, and although it offers little that's new, it's so skillful and spirited that it works. Sandberg (who also helmed the clever Lights Out) proves that tried-and-true tricks and scares continue to be effective if they're performed with artistry and enthusiasm. It helps that spooky dolls are, like spooky clowns, a sort of horror mainstay; they'll always be scary. Sandberg sets up shop in a remote farmhouse, filled with dark rooms, a dumbwaiter, a stairway lift, doll parts, and a creepy barn guarded by an old scarecrow. He smoothly glides his camera through it all like a nightmare that's happening in front of us.
Annabelle: Creation does use plenty of familiar gimmicks, such as the thing that scuttles toward the camera, the thing that turns suddenly toward the camera, and the thing that's yanked away into darkness. Many of the scares are jump-shocks, but the amazing sound design also helps build a bracing sense of dreadful suspense. The characters don't always do the smartest thing at the right time, but, for the most part, they are forgiven; they can't have seen very many horror movies and so be expected to know what to do.
Talk to your kids about ...
Is the movie scary? What's scary about creepy dolls? Can you think of other categories of scary things that horror movies tend to use?
How does this movie compare to the others in the Conjuring series? How does the story connect?
What does the phrase "be careful what you wish for" mean? How is it addressed here?
- In theaters: August 11, 2017
- On DVD or streaming: October 24, 2017
- Cast: Miranda Otto, Stephanie Sigman, Anthony LaPaglia
- Director: David F. Sandberg
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Horror
- Topics: Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Run time: 109 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: horror violence and terror
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.