We first met cursed doll Annabelle in The Conjuring, where she was one of the creepiest things in an already creepy film. Then, she got her own movie (Annabelle), an origin story (Annabelle Creation) and now, she finally gets to go home.
How many stories can you tell about one cursed doll? Quite a few, apparently.
Annabelle Comes Home is a unique film that manages to do two very different things at the same time. It tells a small, more self-contained story, while opening up its world to introduce concepts and characters we’ll probably be seeing in later movies. That, and it’s a decent watch too.
So this third movie opens with everyone’s favourite paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) picking up the Annabelle doll after learning – surprise surprise – it has been causing trouble. We learn that what makes the Annabelle doll truly dangerous is not its nature, but the fact that it acts as a conduit for other spirits to cause havoc.
So what do the Warrens do? They bring it back home and put it in a room SURROUNDED by cursed objects (aka The Room Of Potential The Conjuring Spinoffs). Surely the Warrens can afford TWO places, one to live in and another to store all their possessed items?
Having done that, the Warrens move on to more domestic issues. Their daughter Judy (McKenna Grace) is being bullied at school. It seems she has inherited her mother’s ability to sense spirits and people are freaked out. Thankfully, she has friends, in the form of kindly teenage babysitter Mary Ellen (Madison Iseman) and her friend Daniela (Katie Sarife), a troubled girl obsessed with death.
As expected, things go horribly wrong after Annabelle is accidentally set free one evening. Annabelle also triggers all the room’s cursed objects. This results in one heck of a haunted house party with Judy, Mary Ellen and Daniela having to fight for their lives to escape.
How scary is it? Not very. There are a lot of jump scares and a few nice creepy moments, but honestly, it’s probably not going to spark many nightmares.
The show seems to go for quantity over quality. It is loaded with monsters, and most of them only get a scene or two before being replaced by the next scare. Not the best way to make an impact, really.
How entertaining is it, though? Quite. The monsters that Annabelle unleash range from a monstrous werewolf and a coin-crazy serial killer to a creepy boardgame.
This film really should have been called Annabelle And Friends instead.
Part of the fun is sitting back and watching to see what other crazy thing attacks our main characters. The threats go from corny to genuinely creepy – one item, a bizarre television, is genuinely upsetting. But of course, everyone’s favourite doll gets the best scenes.
And oh, a lot has to be said about one of the main characters, who does some of the most idiotic things possible. It will take the self-control of a saint not to yell at the screen as she does things that you know will lead to horrible, horrible things. If there was an award for Dumb Characters In A Horror Movie, this character … well, she would be absent from the ceremony, having been decapitated after going into a creepy house in a dark wood in the middle of the night by herself.
Since the main characters are teenage girls (the Warrens conveniently disappear for most of the film), Annabelle Comes Home sometimes feels like a young adult movie. This is not a bad thing though, the characters are well-drawn, and the three main actresses put on relatively good performances.
So how does it rank on the scale of the other films in its universe? Well it’s not dethroning The Conjuring and The Conjuring 2 from the top, that’s for certain. It is better than La Llorona and The Nun, and about the same quality as the other Annabelle films.
They say a trilogy’s last film is generally its weakest, but thankfully, Annabelle Comes Home is an exception to the rule.
If you’re looking for real tension and horror, this is not the film for you. If you’re looking for a fun way to spend an hour and a half, well, Annabelle Comes Home is a pretty good choice.
Annabelle Comes Home
Director: Gary Dauberman
Cast: Mckenna Grace, Madison Iseman, Katie Sarife, Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson