The creepy doll from The Conjuring is back and the good news is that this new movie represents a vast step up in quality over the previous solo outing.
Dialling back the clock to the 1950s, Annabelle: Creation follows six orphans given shelter by a former dollmaker and his bed-ridden wife, who lost their own daughter in a car accident 12 years earlier. All is well for… oh, at least a couple of hours, until one of the orphans sneaks into the dead girl's bedroom and finds a very familiar-looking doll locked away in a wardrobe…
From a purely narrative perspective Annabelle: Creation is the very model of a conventional fright flick. What really makes it stand out is director David F. Sandberg, who builds on the promise he showed with last year's Light's Out and orchestrates a series of deftly constructed and hair-raising set-pieces that have no difficulty scaring the willies out of viewers. Backing all of that up are some unexpectedly strong and charismatic performances, with youngsters Talitha Bateman and Lulu Wilson (who also starred in the surprisingly enjoyable Ouija: Origin of Evil) being particularly worthy of praise.
Picture: Annabelle: Creation arrives on Blu-ray with a satisfying 2.40:1 1080p encode. Daylight exteriors are brightly lit and, while not the most intricately detailed visuals you'll ever see, still host plenty of well-refined textures. Meanwhile, the all-important night scenes serve up deep areas of shadow and, while there are hints of crush, the footage retains enough refinement and clarity to ensure that you are always able to follow the onscreen action.
Picture rating: 4/5
Audio: It may take 20 minutes or so to really get into its stride, but Annabelle: Creation's Dolby Atmos mix is a masterclass in sound design for horror films.
The soundfield regularly benefits from localised effects that will have you looking over your shoulder, while bass support is both tight and incredibly potent. Use of the overhead layer for isolated effects is pretty sporadic, but when deployed they're thrillingly effective and serve only to heighten an already terrifying acoustic experience.
Audio rating: 5/5
Extras: Handy extras for any aspiring filmmakers include an informative chat-track from David F. Sandberg, a 42-minute video consisting of b-roll footage and Sandberg discussing his process as a director, and a 12-minute featurette exploring how the film was restructured in the editing suite.
Also included are a short look at how the film fits into the wider Conjuring cinematic universe and two of the director's earlier spooky shorts.
Extras rating: 3/5
We say: This superior fright-flick packs a killer Atmos mix and some quality extras on Blu-ray.
Annabelle: Creation, Warner Bros., All-region BD, £25
HCC VERDICT: 4/5
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