Annabelle: Creation, the latest in Warner Brothers/New Line’s Conjuring franchise, is about as good as you could hope in the second film outing featuring the demonic doll of the film’s title. The character was first introduced in the pre credits sequence of the first Conjuring film and it had all the ear marks of what looked like a can’t miss idea for an interesting horror film concept. Truth be told, the sequence involving Annabelle was actually scarier than anything in The Conjuring and so it came as no surprise when a separate Annabelle film made its way into multiplexes in late 2014. What was a surprise was how lackluster that film turned out be considering the potential.

Since the original Annabelle film managed to turn a hefty profit, The Conjuring team have opted to give audiences a second Annabelle chapter, one promising to give us the origin story of the doll from hell. On that premise it does deliver. Here we learn everything we always wanted to know-or didn’t care to know- about where the doll came from, how it came to be possessed etc. and so forth. Unfortunately, what we don’t get are enough genuine scares to make it worth the nearly two hour running time of the film, which is at least about twenty minutes too long.

A doll maker named Sam (Anthony LaPaglia) and his wife (Miranda Otto) lose their daughter in a tragic accident. As a result, Sam vows never to make another doll, not knowing that the doll he made for his daughter will take on a life of its own. This is due to a pact the couple made with the forces of evil in order to communicate with their daughter from beyond the grave. Go figure!

The action then moves forward twelve years later with Sam now making the unfortunate decision to allow a group of displaced orphans to live in the house he shares with his now strangely bedridden wife. The kids move in and are told not to look in a certain room where a certain little girl and a certain little doll made a bond years ago. Of course curiosity eventually will kill a cat as savvy movie audiences most certainly know by now.

There are roughly half a dozen good scares in Annabelle: Creation. Unfortunately, that isn’t enough to sustain the film’s longish running time. There are far too many stretches in between scares when I had to stifle my yawns. This chapter in the Annabelle saga may be a bit of an improvement over the last but that certainly isn’t saying much.

Image: Anthony LaPaglia in Annabelle: Creation

Annabelle: Creation opens today, Thursday August 10, in Hickory at the AMC theater and all around the area.

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