“Annabelle Comes Home” stars Mckenna Grace, Madison Iseman, Katie Sarife, Patrick Wilson, and Vera Farmiga. Released on June 28, 2019, the film has the Warrens' daughter encountering the wrath of Annabelle.
The film features the directorial debut of Gary Dauberman, who is known for writing “The Conjuring” spin-offs like “Annabelle” and “The Nun”. It is the third film in the “Annabelle” series and serves as the seventh installment in the Conjuring Universe. A while ago, I tackled a film that involves an evil doll killing people. Now, I’m tackling another horror film that involves an evil doll killing people (well, almost). Throughout the “Conjuring” films, Annabelle has done nothing but freaked people out due to its demonic nature and its unsettling face. Seriously, what is with these movies and their obsessions with dolls that have creepy faces? While the doll’s first solo film in the “Conjuring” cinematic universe wasn’t as nightmarish as we thought it would be, the “Annabelle” film series was able to redeem itself with the release of another prequel, “Annabelle: Creation” in 2017. Now we have another “Annabelle” film that finally pits the doll against the Warrens, who were responsible for placing it in a glass box. Was it worth the wait?
For those who have followed the "Annabelle" films for quite some time, "Annabelle Comes Home" follows a similar structure: a group of characters encounter a doll that serves as a beacon for the other evil spirits and bad stuff happens. The only difference is that it takes place in the Warrens' own home, hence the title "Annabelle Comes Home". One thing you should know about the story is that it had a lot of build-up in the first two acts. The film wants you to get to know the characters as well as their personal problems before they encounter some creepy stuff in the final act. If you went into this film expecting a strong and intelligent story, you probably won't like what it brought to the table. It had some pretty dumb moments (like most horror films nowadays), including the awkward, but chuckle-worthy, humor and the CGI wolfman that took me out of the film's grounded tone almost completely, but at least it didn't shy away from attempting to provide some tolerable characters. Something that "La Llorona" should've done in the first place. Sure, they made a few stupid decisions throughout the film and their character depth wasn't strong enough to fully capitalize on one of its messages, but they provided a few moments that I thought were suitable. The main actors in the film were respectable in their roles, including Grace as the Warrens' daughter. Wilson and Farmiga reprised their roles as the paranormal-hunting husband-and-wife duo, which was a nice touch for "Conjuring" fans, but their small amount of screen time might disappoint them as well. When you are able to get past the film’s first two acts filled with lots of build-up, it’ll reward you with a bone-chilling and nerve-tingling final act that is reminiscent of a haunted house attraction from a horror-themed amusement park. Despite the scares being either predictable or sour, the film relied on using appropriate jump scares and providing effective uses of atmosphere and dread to deliver an experience that’s both investing and creepy. This is Dauberman’s first attempt at directing a film based on his own screenplay, let alone a “Conjuring” installment, and from what I saw, he didn’t do too bad. It’s not a perfect directorial debut from him, but it shows that he still understands what made the titular doll so frightening, whether he’s behind the camera or writing the script or both.
Overall, “Annabelle Comes Home” was able to welcome its audience to the home of the Conjuring Universe with open arms, even though it didn’t meet all of its expectations compared to its predecessor, “Annabelle: Creation”. The cast delivered some decent performances, Dauberman’s direction was respectable, and the film’s final act was atmospheric and haunting. Its unintelligent substance and so-so characters might not be able to impress everyone, but if you only care about getting creeped out by the malevolent doll, you should be fine watching this latest chapter in the “Annabelle” series. It’s not as good as the main “Conjuring” films, but I will say that it’s an improvement over the likes of “La Llorona” and “The Nun”.