Demonic possession is child’s play in Annabelle: Creation, a 1950s-set prequel that enriches the mythology of the wooden doll, which wreaked havoc in the 2013 supernatural horror The Conjuring.
Directed by David F Sandberg, who sent beads of sweat cascading down our spines with his debut feature, Lights Out, this spooky yarn has enough piercing jolts to sate horror fans, who enjoy being scared out of their wits.
It’s a marked improvement on the first Annabelle stand-alone picture, which lazily appropriated elements from The Omen and Rosemary’s Baby for a turgid tale of maternal sacrifice. Screenwriter Gary Dauberman concentrates his battle of good and evil within the creaking walls of a doll maker’s isolated home, where tiny carved limbs dangle ominously from strings and a scarecrow in the barn threatens to spring to malevolent life. Tiny movements in shadowy hallways signal impending doom and a stair lift provides an agonisingly slow escape from one centrepiece haunting.
Dauberman nods to other chapters in the series, including a visual cue to the hideous nun from The Conjuring 2, who will be the subject of her own spin-off in 2018, and an unsettling coda that dovetails neatly with murders in the existing timeline.
On general release.