Directed by: Gary Dauberman
Premise: The third Annabelle film. Chronologically following the events of The Conjuring 2, the daughter of Ed and Lorraine Warren (Mckenna Grace), and her babysitters (Madison Iseman and Katie Sarife) are terrorized by evil spirits.
What Works: The two Conjuring movies are pretty good supernatural horror pictures that have inspired a series of mediocre spinoff titles including The Nun and The Curse of La Llorona. The third installment in the Annabelle subseries is surprisingly well made. This is a successful haunted house picture that’s made with some style and craft and it is populated with characters who have a little more depth than some of the other Conjuring entries. Annabelle Comes Home centers upon Judy, the pre-teen daughter of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. Judy is fundamentally a normal little girl but her parent’s unusual occupation makes Judy a pariah at school and the filmmakers seize upon that quality to make Judy sympathetic. In her parent’s absence, Judy is chaperoned by a pair of babysitters, one of whom lost her father unexpectedly. That grief leads the young woman toward the Warren’s collection of supernatural objects which she unwittingly unleashes. Although she is doing something quite dumb—there are literally signs posted telling her not to go in the collection and not to open Annabelle’s case—her motives smooths it over. The three young women of Annabelle Comes Home are quite likable and that invests the viewer in whether or not they survive. Once the spirits are unleashed the movie takes off. Whereas the other Conjuring spinoffs were murky and clumsy, Annabelle Comes Home has some effective scares and a few striking images.
What Doesn’t: The story of Annabelle Comes Home is haphazard. The film mostly consists of a series of disconnected events. Spooky things happen and then they stop and then a different spooky thing happens in another part of the house. There is no reason to it and the movie has the logic of a fun house. It provides sufficient scares but there is very little holding the story together. The film is saddled with a few ridiculous moments, even for a supernatural horror flick, such as a scene in which an exorcism is carried out by playing an 8mm recording of the ritual. Oddest about Annabelle Comes Home is how incidental the doll is to the action. Most of the spooky happenings in this movie have little to do with the doll or its history as laid out in the previous Annabelle spinoff films.
Bottom Line: Annabelle Comes Home is the best of the Conjuring spinoffs. That sounds like damning with faint praise because it’s also the only Conjuring spinoff that’s any good. But Annabelle Comes Home mostly succeeds as a haunted house picture.
Episode: #757 (July 14, 2019)