By the time we hit Annabelle Comes Home, this satanic doll has terrorized families in three (four if you count the opening to The Conjuring) different movies. Someone do the world a favor by dousing this thing with gasoline, lighting a match and sending little ‘ole Annabelle back to where she came.
Yeah, yeah, the Warrens make the point during Annabelle Comes Home that doing something like that would only make things worse, but I’m pretty sure that I’d still set the thing on fire if I woke up to Annabelle lying in my bed.
Following Child’s Play and Toy Story 4’s example of turning 2019 into the year of scary doll movies, Annabelle Comes Home is now the third Annabelle movie and the seventh film to take place within the Conjuring universe.
Set around the same time that The Conjuring and The Conjuring 2 took place, Annabelle Comes Home reunites us with Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Loraine Warren, and that creepy basement of theirs that’s home to demons, monsters and everything in-between.
This time, however, the two of them aren’t around to protect the world from the dangers they have trapped in there. No, they’ve decided to leave for the weekend — probably for an exorcism or some kind of garbage vacation like that — and have placed their daughter, Judy (Haunting of Hill House’s Mckenna Grace), and her babysitter, Mary Ellen (Jumanji’s Madison Iseman) in charge of holding the fort down.
That seems like the responsible thing to do, right? Leave a 13-year-old girl and a slightly older minor who’s never witnessed anything paranormal before in charge of place that’s literally home to dozens and dozens of ghosts?
Look, Ed and Loraine might have a pretty sweet romance and all in these movies, but neither of them are winning parents of the year awards anytime soon.
Despite the circumstances, things *almost* worked out fine for Judy and Mary Ellen as they’re both well-behaved people who know better than to go poking around in things that don’t belong to them.
Things almost work out fine until Mary Ellen’s friend, Daniela (Katie Sarife), comes barging in, that is.
Daniela doesn’t have the same kind of respect for other peoples things that, you know, most good-natured people would. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. You see, she’s heard of the Warrens — everyone in town has — and Daniela, being the curiously dumb teenager that she is, decides she wants to have a peak for herself.
Granted, she has another reason for wanting to get into that basement, too — something that I’m not going to spoil for you but actually adds another layer to her character — but, still. At the end of the day, she’s pretty reckless and irresponsible.
To nobody’s surprise, Daniela winds up disturbing some evil spirits while she’s poking around. Most notably, she lets Annabelle out of her case, then causing Annabelle to wake up and have dominion over the rest of the ghouls in a very Godzilla: King of the Monsters kind of way.
One of those monsters is a werewolf, though, and that’s pretty cool. I was under the impression that The Conjuring 3 was going to be about werewolves — I don’t know if that’s the case anymore as it might seem like a retread now, given that this werewolf gets a decent amount of screen-time, but it’s still a pretty cool addition nonetheless.
In interviews leading up to the film’s release, director Gary Dauberman (who also penned the screenplay for It) has called Annabelle Comes Home a horror-take on Night at the Museum. That’s a pretty dead-on description as to what this movie has to offer, if you ask me — for better or worse.
I’m going to give Annabelle Comes Home some praise before I start digging into it too hard, though, as this really feels like a horror movie that’s meant for horror fans. With a screenplay that comes from James Wan, this has every kind of devil, phantom or behemoth you could ever want to see in one film, resulting in what feels like an amusement park ride of sorts as we’re constantly waiting to see what they’re going to pull out of their hat next.
Basically, Annabelle Comes Home is like walking through a giant, overstuffed haunted house. The bad news is that Annabelle Comes Home has about as much story as a haunted house might have — that is to say almost none at all.
Look, I love the scares and the creature design as much as anyone, which is why I ultimately had fun with Annabelle Comes Home. There was a voice in the back of my head, however, that kept nagging at me as I couldn’t help but think how much MORE fun I would have been having if this had a solid narrative or was building to something.
Instead, Annabelle Comes Home is really just set-up, scare and repeat, again and again and again. Sure, they’re enjoyable and well-crafted scares, but there’s not a whole lot of sense or cause to anything that’s happening on-screen.
Think of the first Conjuring movie, to illustrate the point. The Conjuring is scary as hell, but there’s a whole lot that movie explores besides the ghosts, too. In fact, I’d say The Conjuring is just as much of a drama as it is a horror movie, given how much time we spend with the characters, their conflicts, relationships, etc.
In fairness to Annabelle Comes Home, I did like the characters more than I thought I did and, in the first act, it did seem like we were going somewhere with them. Judy, Mary Ellen and especially Daniela — a girl you really want to hate but wind up sympathizing with — aren’t just typical horror-movie cannon fodder. They’re all pretty well drawn out and well performed, too.
I was just hoping for something with these characters to really bring me through Annabelle Comes Home — some kind of storyline or dramatic angle they could have played up to give this thing more a through-line. Rather, this feels like a bunch of sequences that were stitched together, even though they could really be presented to us in any order and it’d hardly make a difference.
There’s a good chance you might still really like this one, as there’s no doubting the fact that its miles better than both The Nun and The Curse of La Llorona combined. That’s why I’m stilling tell you that, if you’re a horror fan, you should check it out at some point. Maybe not right this second (I’d say it’s on-par with Annabelle: Creation), but there’s just too much creepy goodness in here to ignore it altogether — even if you probably will have completely forgotten about it a few weeks later.
Watch the trailer for Annabelle Comes Home here and then let us know, in the comments below, what you thought of the film!
'Annabelle Comes Home' - Somebody light this doll on fire already6