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A Filmmaker's Guide to the Horror Techniques Used in 'Annabelle: Creation'

Study, Experience and Analysis

By Annie KapurPublished 5 years ago • 5 min read

(Note: this article will be concentrating on analysis to do with the film 'Annabelle: Creation' and so, to get the best insight, it is recommended that you watch the film at least once over).

Annabelle: Creation is the 4th installment of The Conjuring Universe and possibly one of the darkest chapters it has. It is the prequel to the film Annabelle and is based on the background to the haunting of the doll. The reason it is so dark is mainly because it puts very vulnerable children in a dangerous and horrific situation but we are going to also explore other themes. They will be:

- Light and Dark

- Depicting the Demon

- Space

Let's get on with the analysis then.

Light and Dark

The creation of light and dark has always been important in horror film, but if you watched Annabelle: Creation then you'd notice how important it is regarding the dead child's room. It doesn't matter about the time of day, the dead girl's room is always plunged into darkness whilst keeping just enough light for us to see what's going on. Let's take a look at the frame:


The scene is pretty self-explanatory. We have the natural light of what is either moonlight or some form of artificial light throwing light through the window from outside and we have certain objects in light and dark respectively. For example, the most noticeable thing put in light is Annabelle. She is seated facing the camera in the light so that the audience may see her face. Her clothes are a bright white so that any shadow cast may not plunge her into darkness whereas, the girl in the back is only half lit up because of her clothes. The girl's clothes are blue and not as bright as Annabelle's, meaning that the shadows will darken her, making Annabelle stand out even more.

If you wanted to do this in your own film, you want to use as much natural light or unseen light sources as possible. This creates that effect you get from the windows which I call "interrupted light" in which the light is "interrupted" by inconsistent dark patches.

Depicting the Demon

There's something about Annabelle: Creation which is different from the other Conjuring Universe films in that the way it depicts the demon is somewhat less physical than the others. We never really see it directly for any significant amount of time; the daughter is always apart from the story and the demon is depicted more through the actions of the doll. Let's have a look at the frame:


In this frame the demon is depicted in the classic style, underneath a sheet. This can tell us various things: the first thing it can tell us is that the demon is a child by looking at the size of it. The next thing it can tell us is that the demon exists within the space of that room and therefore is something to do with the house, thus it is probably a child belonging to whoever lives at the house. Another thing it can tell us is that the demon is most likely a girl by looking at the items within the surrounding area of the demon, dolls and fancy lampshades. Finally, it can tell us that it wants to make itself known to whoever is inside the room as it arrives to them in form and not from inside a mirror or window.

If you wanted to achieve this then you'd have to get the demon to appear after established itself within a space. As the demon exists within the space of the room to begin with, it makes itself known as being a part of it. This is how we know it's the daughter. You would need to achieve the same link. This is the sequence: space, existence, reveal - is very important for establishing how the demon is depicted.


Space is especially important if you want to be able to give enough space to the demonic presence in order for it to establish itself. Not only this, but you want to establish space correctly for the scene in which you're depicting something either tense or uncertain. The correct amount of space shown in the wrong way could really ruin the scene so let's take a look at well the frame depicts its amount of space then:


The space in this scene is seen to be long but narrow, giving the feeling of uncertainty. Obviously, if we know The Conjuring Universe, we know that long, narrow corridors means that there's something to be discovered. In this case, it's a photograph of a young girl. The space is depicted as long by the use of shadowing and darkness. The girl in the scene seems to be caught slightly in the light whilst the rest of the way is in the shadowing darkness. It's not complete darkness because it is the middle of the day, but it's just enough to give us a vision of what kind of space she's in. Then, we have the width of the corridor. Since there is a door space by the right side of the girl, we can assume that this is how wide the corridor is. The way it is seen by the audience is that there is a small space in which she can walk only one way, a straight line. The photographs on the wall, therefore, stick out more because of the fact there is nothing else within the space.

If you wanted to achieve this type of uncertainty, it is important that you have a good amount of empty space that is concentrate by the lack of space elsewhere. For example; the empty space on the wall is concentrated on because of the lack of space in the corridor. This makes the focal point of the space home in on the photograph. Of course, the natural lighting also helps.


I hope you've found this useful in exploring the film Annabelle: Creation and now, you can work on your own project using the same/similar themes. If you however, wanted to explore more themes in this film, you could have a look at the following:

- Depicting Children

- Religion

- The Past and Present

- The Appearance of the Doll

- Colour Schemes

Good Luck on Your Next Project!

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About the Creator

Annie Kapur

180K+ Reads on Vocal.

English Lecturer.

Film and Writing (M.A)

đź“ŤBirmingham, UK

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