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Annabelle: Creation is a 2017 American supernatural horror film directed by David F. Sandberg and written by Gary Dauberman. It is a prequel to Annabelle and the fourth installment in The Conjuring Universe. The film stars Stephanie Sigman, Talitha Bateman, Anthony LaPaglia and Miranda Otto, and depicts the possessed Annabelle doll's origin.
It premiered at the LA Film Festival on June 19, 2017, and was theatrically released in the United States on August 11, 2017. The film grossed over $306 million worldwide and received generally positive reviews from critics, who praised the atmosphere and acting, and noted it as an improvement over its predecessor. A third film, titled Annabelle Comes Home, was released on July 3, 2019.
Former toy maker Samuel Mullins (Anthony LaPaglia) and his wife Esther (Miranda Otto) are happy to welcome a nun (Stephanie Sigman) and six orphaned girls into their California farmhouse. Years earlier, the couple's 7-year-old daughter Annabelle (Samara Lee) died in a tragic car accident. Terror soon strikes when one child sneaks into a forbidden room and finds a seemingly innocent doll that appears to have a life of its own.
The film opens in 1943, with successful toy maker Samuel Mullins creating his very first porcelain doll, which he would give to his daughter, Annabelle, nicknamed "Bee". One day, on the way back from church, when Samuel and his wife, Esther, pull over their car to fix a tire, Bee runs onto the road and dies when she is hit by a passing car. Out of grief, the Mullins couple prayed to anything that could bring their daughter back. As a result, they unknowingly summoned a demon, who masqueraded as Bee's spirit. The demon then requests permission to transfer its essence into one of Samuel's porcelain dolls, in order to use it as a temporary vessel. Initially, the Mullins were overjoyed at the sight of their daughter, but they eventually realized that they had been deceived by a malevolent spirit that was searching for a human host. Soon after, Annabelle attacks Esther, gouging her left eye out. The Mullins couple then takes Annabelle and seals her inside Bee's closet, covering the walls in Bible pages, before reaching out to the church to bless the household.
Annabelle would remain dormant until 12 years later in 1957 when the Mullins couple opens their home to provide shelter for Sister Charlotte and the orphans of St. Eustace after the closing of their orphanage. When night falls, Janice, a young girl crippled by polio and one of the orphans, is awakened by a noise. She decides to investigate where the noise came from, and discovers a note, saying "Find me.". Janice sneaks into Bee's room, which has somehow been unlocked, despite Samuel's warning to not enter. Janice finds a key within a dollhouse, and unlocks Bee's closet, unintentionally freeing Annabelle. Janice, creeped out by the doll, shuts the closet, only for it to open again. Janice then locks the closet again, locking it this time, but Bee's closet opens again. She then throws a bedsheet over the doll, but Annabelle gets up from her chair and slowly approaches Janice as the bedsheet slips off, revealing nothing underneath. Janice looks out the windows and runs back to the room, after seeing Samuel about to reenter the house. Annabelle, now released from Bee's closet, begins terrorizing the girls throughout their stay at the Mullins farmhouse, primarily focusing on Janice.
On the second night, when Carol and Nancy stay up to gossip and tell stories about Esther in the girls' bedroom, they hear her bell ringing for Samuel's assistance. As Esther's bell continues to ring, Carol and Nancy wonder why Samuel doesn't answer her. After their flashlight shuts off, they see Annabelle through their blanket, as a shadowy figure representing their interpretation of Esther's appearance in their stories. Annabelle then attacks the girls, grabbing Carol's face, before the demon disappears when Kate turns on the light.
On the third night, Janice hears "You Are My Sunshine" playing on the gramophone in Bee's room. After Janice turns it off, her best friend, and another one of the orphans, Linda enters the room. Janice tells her about Bee, and Linda accidentally shoots Annabelle with a toy gun, resulting in the doll glaring at her ominously. After Linda leaves the room and goes back to bed, Janice reads Bee's diary, and the door shuts. Annabelle then appears to Janice in Bee's form, and Janice asks Annabelle what she wants. Annabelle turns around with a demonic face, and declares that she wants "her soul." In complete fear, Janice attempts to flee from Annabelle via a stairwell, only for the latter to catch her and throw her down from the second-floor landing to the first floor, confining her to a wheelchair.
On the fourth night, Linda, after comforting Janice, opens the door to Bee's room and notices that Annabelle is absent from her chair. Linda waits in her and Janice's bedroom, anticipating Annabelle to appear. Linda uses Bee's toy gun to detect the demon's presence by shooting its ball into the darkness. The demon grabs the ball and snatches the toy gun away from Linda. When Annabelle starts to approach her rapidly, Linda frantically runs to her bed and hides under her covers. After the lamp shuts off, Linda sees inhuman footprints leading to her bed. She checks the left side of her bed and sees the doll looking at her before it is grabbed by the demon.
The day after, when Sister Charlotte brings Janice outside for some sunlight, Janice is pushed into a barn by the fake Charlotte after the real Charlotte leaves. Janice struggles to get to her wheelchair, only for it to be destroyed and is possessed by Annabelle (posing as Bee again) when she vomits black ectoplasm in her mouth. Linda notices changes in her behavior and tells Samuel that Janice had gone into Bee's room. Shortly after this, Samuel enters the dining room and finds Annabelle sitting in one of the chairs. Samuel is then approached by Janice, who then contorts into Annabelle's true demonic form. Samuel attempts to repel her with a handmade crucifix, but Annabelle telekinetically snaps his fingers backward, forcing him to drop it, before mercilessly killing him off-screen as the camera pans towards the doll. Sister Charlotte hears his screams, and rushes to his aid, horrified upon finding his corpse.
At night, Linda takes Annabelle away from Janice when she's asleep and goes outside to dispose of the doll. Charlotte sees Linda from her bedroom window and follows her. Linda opens the well, and Sister Charlotte asks what she's doing. Linda tells her what she plans to do, and drops Annabelle down the well. When Linda and Charlotte start walking back, Linda hears whispering coming from the well, and Annabelle attempts to pull her down the well with what appears to be human hands. Charlotte grabs Linda and pulls her away from the well, before closing it. Linda and Charlotte run back to the household, only to find the doll in Janice's place on the couch in the living room. Charlotte tells the girls to find Janice, while she takes the doll with her. Sister Charlotte speaks with Esther, who wears a porcelain mask to hide her scars from Annabelle's attack on her, and the latter informs Sister Charlotte of the evil doll's origins. Carol, Nancy, and Tierney find Janice and the Annabelle doll that somehow got in Bee's room. Janice cuts Nancy's left arm, and the girls run downstairs to Charlotte for help. Charlotte tells Carol to call for help, and the girls call the police. Afterward, they run over to Esther's room to help her escape with them, only to find the bisected upper half of her corpse crucified onto the wall. Charlotte finds Linda and Kate in the girls' bedroom, and Janice enters behind her. Charlotte utters a Latin incantation, as Janice levitates her and slams her against a mirror, rendering her unconscious. Linda and Kate run from Janice, but the former trips and is dragged across the corridor.
At Linda's request, Kate runs to get help, while Janice searches for Linda, who attempts to escape via the dumbwaiter. Meanwhile, the other girls run to the barn, with the door shutting in front of Nancy, Kate, and Tierney, separating Carol from the other girls. The demon then emerges from the scarecrow inside, and it begins to destroy the light bulbs, one by one, with Carol struggling to keep the last one intact. When Annabelle destroys the last light, Carol runs into the room where Samuel makes his dolls. Nancy comes to rescue her through the windows and the two of them escape unharmed. Linda exits the dumbwaiter and enters the Mullins couple's bedroom, where Annabelle briefly possesses Esther's corpse to scare her. Linda runs back to the dumbwaiter and uses it to go back up, but it abruptly stops. Linda glances down to see Janice chasing her below before the demon's hands attempt to pull the dumbwaiter down. Linda uses the rope attached to get back into the room and sees Janice downstairs. When Janice resumes pursuing Linda, she runs into Bee's room and hides in the closet. Janice finds her and throws her outside the closet, and attempts to stab her with a knife. Sister Charlotte arrives to save Linda, locking the possessed Janice/Annabelle and the doll inside the closet.
The next day, after Sister Charlotte and the orphans have vacated the house, police arrive to investigate and find the Annabelle doll in the closet, which they remove as evidence, while Janice had escaped through a hole in the closet wall the night before, and relocated to St. Joachim, another orphanage in Santa Monica. When the Higgins family adopts her, the still-possessed Janice introduces herself as "Annabelle". 12 years later, Annabelle has formed a cult known as The Disciples of The Ram and kills her adoptive parents. A pregnant Mia Form is awakened by the screams of the Higgins couple next door, and her husband, John, goes to investigate, setting the events of the first Annabelle film into motion.
- Stephanie Sigman as Sister Charlotte
- Talitha Bateman as Janice
- Lulu Wilson as Linda
- Anthony LaPaglia as Samuel Mullins
- Miranda Otto as Esther Mullins
- Alicia Vela-Bailey as Evil Esther Mullins
- Samara Lee as Annabelle Mullins
- Grace Fulton as Carol
- Philippa Coulthard as Nancy
- Tayler Buck as Kate
- Lou Lou Safran as Tierney
- Mark Bramhall as Father Massey
- Brian Howe as Pete Higgins
- Kerry O'Malley as Sharon Higgins
- Joseph Bishara as Demon
- Fred Tatasciore as Demon Voice
- Adam Bartley as Officer Fuller
- Lotta Losten as the adoption agent
- Liam James Ramos as Little Boy
Annabelle: Creation grossed $102.1 million in the United States and Canada and $204.4 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $306.5 million, against a production budget of $15 million. With its release, it pushed The Conjuring franchise past the $1 billion threshold, making it only the third horror series to cross that mark, after the Alien franchise and Resident Evil series. Deadline Hollywood calculated the film made a net profit of $108.7 million, when factoring together all expenses and revenues.
In North America, the film was released alongside The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature and The Glass Castle, and was projected to gross around $30 million from 3,502 theaters in its opening weekend. The film grossed $4 million from its Thursday night previews, the highest of The Conjuring series and double the original Annabelle is $2.1 million. It went on to open to $35 million, the lowest of the series, but still topping the box office. In its second weekend, the film dropped 55.7% to earn another $15.5 million, which was a smaller second-weekend drop than Annabelle (57%) and The Conjuring 2 (63%), and the best second-weekend hold of the franchise since the initial Conjuring film (46%).
Outside North America, the film was released to positive reception from international audiences, which is reflected in its box office performance. It broke several opening records for the horror genre as well as for the studio and came in ahead of The Conjuring and Annabelle in many markets. The week prior to its domestic release, the film debuted in Italy at number one, with $1.1 million. It earned $35.4 million on its opening weekend from 39 markets, almost on par with its domestic debut and marking the second biggest international opening in the franchise, behind only The Conjuring 2. Overall, the film was number two at the international box office after Wolf Warrior 2. The film expanded to 56 markets in its sophomore weekend, adding a handful of major markets and thereby topping the worldwide chart for the first time with an estimated $42 million.
It recorded the highest opening weekend in the franchise in 26 markets and the biggest launch for a horror film of all time in Sweden, Poland, Portugal, India, Malaysia ($2.2 million), the UAE ($1.1 million) and Vietnam. The top openings came from Mexico ($8 million), Korea ($6.7 million), and India ($9.8 million). In South Korea, the film grossed $1.2 million from Thursday previews. Despite its South Korean release falling during diplomatic tensions, it ultimately opened there with $6.7 million, as the number one foreign release and the third highest-grossing movie overall behind local films A Taxi Driver and Midnight Runners.
On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 70% based on 175 reviews, with an average rating of 6.18/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Annabelle: Creation adds another strong chapter to the Conjuring franchise–and offers further proof that freaky-looking dolls remain reliably terrifying." Metacritic, another review aggregator, assigned the film a weighted average score of 62 out of 100, based on 29 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale, the same score earned by the first Annabelle film.
Justin Lowe of The Hollywood Reporter called it "wickedly terrifying," and said it was "closer in tone and old-school psychological fright tactics to the original film than either The Conjuring 2 or Annabelle." Peter Debruge of Variety, while criticising the plot, said the film nevertheless "manages to conjure some effective scares," and that "this effective yet empty-headed horror movie goes to show how eager audiences are to be scared, and how even an unsightly doll can do the trick when the spirit is willing." Similarly, Chris Hewitt of Empire felt that while the "movie can't hold a flickering candle to the James Wan-directed entries in the series... it's got plenty of decent shocks, and the odd genuine surprise, up its sleeve." However, Emily Yoshida of Vulture wrote that "Annabelle: Creation's countless sequences of foreboding silence—hands reaching for doorknobs, our heroines shuddering in the dark, waiting for their demonic tormentor to attack—offer nothing to really latch on to, no larger reason to care that's not purely technical". Chris Nashawaty of Entertainment Weekly gave the film a "C" grade, calling it "a mishmash of clichés and nonsense" and writing that "none of this will seem new to horror fans".
The Conjuring (2013) • Annabelle (2014) • The Conjuring 2 (2016) • Annabelle: Creation (2017) • The Nun (2018) • The Curse of La Llorona (2019) • Annabelle Comes Home (2019) • The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (2021)
My Annabelle Creation
The Nurse • The Confession • What's Wrong With Mom? • Blund's Lullaby • Innocent Souls