Annabelle Comes Home
Directed by: Gary Dauberman
Run time: 106 minutes
The Lowdown: A funny thing happened along the way toward James Wan creating a fantastic shared universe built around The Conjuring franchise.
And that is that these entity-specific tie-in movies, which are based on various possessed items collected over decades by Ed and Lorraine Warren, or distinct demonic spirits the Warrens tangled with as paranormal investigators, kept improving until they were as good if not better than any of the Conjuring films.
At current count, there are three separate spinoff series, including movies about Annabelle, a demonic doll; The Nun, an ancient evil entity; and La Llorona, a Latin American folktale about a cursed weeping woman.
The first Annabelle movie in 2014 was a complete stinker, but 2017’s Annabelle: Creation significantly raised the bar and delivered a wholly unnerving backstory to the doll.
Now, with this third entry, it’s clear that Wan and Co., are just having a blast goosing the shit out of the audience.
More than anything, Annabelle Comes Home does a bang-up job of making the doll seem really formidable and creepy as hell, even more so than in past appearances.
The set-up is as simple as they come: The Warren’s daughter, Judy (Mckenna Grace), has the same gift as her mother, the ability to see the dead, but because of her parents’ reputation, she is bullied at school and shunned by many of her peers.
One night, the Warrens (Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson) hire a babysitter to watch Judy, and the sitter’s friend sneaks over, determined to explore the locked room of paranormal artifacts kept by the Warrens in their basement because she wants to communicate with her father, who was killed in a car crash.
Seriously, the bitch is determined, and eventually gets inside where she freaking touches EVERYTHING, especially the items marked ‘Do Not Touch,’ thereby waking up a shit-ton of angry spirits.
Judy, her sitter and the friend must survive the night as those spirits wreak havoc throughout the Warren home and even the surrounding neighborhood.
As written by Wan and director Gary Dauberman, Annabelle Comes Home wisely takes its time getting to the truly spooky stuff, but they also don’t rely solely on jump scares to pad the script. Instead, they masterfully build tension by keeping a laser focus on the small details and allowing multiple objects and spirits to cycle through the spotlight.
Through it all, Annabelle the doll keeps appearing like some kind of hellish Where’s Waldo character, and with each new sighting, the fucking doll just gets more unsettling.
This trilogy, which surely won’t end with Comes Home, defies every normal box office expectation.
The last two films, in particular, are stark anomalies. Neither Creation nor Comes Home should exist, given how poorly the first film was executed.
In fact, I can’t recall the last franchise that actually improved over time with each new installment. That just doesn’t happen, especially in horror, which has a rich history of diminishing returns by milking every last drop out of movies that never should have spawned follow-ups.
If you’ve avoided the Annabelle series until now, here’s an honest assessment: Stop resisting. Go out and buy the second and third movies. Watch. Enjoy.
The Stuff You Care About:
Hot chicks – No.
Nudity – No.
Gore – Minimal.
Drug use – No.
Bad Guys/Killers – A whole haunted room full of ‘em.
Buy/Rent – Buy it.
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