When Lorraine and Ed Warren have to go away, they leave their daughter Judy in the care of babysitter Mary Ellen. However, Mary Ellen’s friend, Daniela, turns up knowing about the Warren’s reputation for her own reasons, one that will unleash all manner of evil in the house, through the doll, Annabelle…
The so-called ‘Conjuring Universe’ continues to expand. Already this year we had a loosely connected film, The Curse Of La Llorona, which had moments and now we have the third Annabelle film. The first one was all right and had moments that worked. The second, the prequel, Annabelle Creation was far better. Now we have Annabelle Comes Home.
Unlike other films, we never get the year this is set in, but from what we see in this film it opens with part of the prologue to The Conjuring and after a creepy scene, it moves to a year later.
Annabelle Comes Home is written and directed by Gary Dauberman (based on a story from Dauberman and James Wan, who you could say is the man behind the Conjuring Universe). Dauberman is the man behind all of the Annabelle films, as well as the other spin-off, The Nun along with IT Chapter 1&2. As a writer he’s written some good, enjoyable horror films, but this is his directing debut.
As a director, he does create some moments that are creepy, including a good jump scare at one point. And you can also see what he’s trying to do, in taking his time, introducing the characters, before unleashing the horrors. On this aspect, he’s mostly successful, although I did think it went on too long.
But it’s when he unleashes the horrors the problems begin. Considering the amount of evil items that are locked away in the Warren’s house, you perhaps expect a much more epic battle between good and evil. And in truth, you would expect a story like this, to feature the Warren’s. I’m not saying an horror Endgame type of scale was needed, but it a story like this does feel like it needed to be bigger.
I mentioned who the film takes too long before getting to the horror, which has another consequence, in that I felt the last act was rushed. It also has that problem a number of horror films have, in that it does have an ending that gets too overblown. This might have worked in a more ‘epic’ like story, but not here.
And yet for all the flaws I had with the film, there are moments I quite liked, especially in the way the film develops the three female characters at the films heart.
In the trailer we see Daniela in the Warren’s collection room. Her reason for being there, when it is revealed, sort of makes sense in the context of the film, although it possibly needed a bit more background if I’m honest. Mary Ellen is also well developed, as she supports Judy and also her friend, along with the potential of the beginning of a relationship with a neighbour, Bob. In the roles, both Katie Sarife as Daniela and Madison Iseman as Mary Ellen are both pretty good.
But perhaps the most interesting aspect of the story, at least in the first part of the film, is how the Warren’s daughter Judy is treated by pupils at her school, her lack of friends and how it makes her feel. McKenna Grace plays Judy and is very good, in what is perhaps the best written role in the film.
Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson return as Lorraine and Ed Warren, but aside from the films opening and ending, we don’t see much of them in the film, but both are as reliable as ever.
Of the new horrors, The Ferryman is by far the creepiest of them, although each of them has moments. And yet the film is never as scary as you want it to be. It uses the ‘quiet, quiet, quiet, BANG’ approach, one associates with the films of this series, but I don’t think it uses it as well as some of the other films have. And that leads to perhaps the biggest problem with Annabelle Comes Home. It isn’t scary enough.
However, as I said I did like it. Most of this comes down to the three leads and also to something that occurred to me while heading home after. As a horror film for adults I don’t think it works fully. However it, for me anyway, reminded me of Joe Dante’s film The Hole, which played like a horror film for teens. A fellow Twitter used also brought up Goosebumps, which I think makes sense. If you look at the film on that level, then I do think Annabelle Comes Home works much better.
Of the films in the ‘Conjuring Universe,’ Annabelle Comes Home is not the worst film. I still think The Curse Of La Llorona is the weakest one so far. And as a horror for teens, I think it holds up.
But as a horror for adults it’s a weak entry in the series.
But I can’t say I didn’t like it.
Rating: *** out of 5