Annabelle: Creation

Part of the franchise built around James Wan’s horror hit The Conjuring (2013), this feature tells the origin story of the evil doll from Annabelle (2014), a movie it surpasses in craft and narrative coherence. In the mid-1940s, a rural couple (Anthony LaPaglia, Miranda Otto) lose their young daughter in a road accident; a dozen years later, still mourning, they open their decaying Gothic Revival home to a compassionate nun (Stephanie Sigman) and six orphaned girls, though any sense of sanctuary proves short-lived when a demon animates the title doll and begins trolling for a human host. The movie suggests that excessive grief may be a form of possession, which is intriguing, but the constant floating, spinning, shattering, and slamming of household objects gradually saps the movie’s tension. David F. Sandberg (Lights Out) directed.