We have a bit of a ‘love-hate’ relationship with the Annabelle series of The Conjuring universe. In that we absolutely hated the 2014 movie and loved the 2017 sequel. You can read our review of Annabelle here and Annabelle: Creation here.
One bad film and one good film, which brings us to the third film in the series, Annabelle Comes Home. Directed by Gary Dauberman, in his directorial debut, with a story by Dauberman and James Wan. It is the seventh entry in the Conjuring Universe and stars Mckenna Grace, Madison Iseman, and Katie Sarife. Both Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson also show up to reprise their roles as Lorraine and Ed Warren.
Set in 1973, one year after the events of The Conjuring, we once again see the moment where Lorraine and Ed Warren get hold of the Annabelle doll. The nurses, Debbie and Camilla, handing the doll over after relaying their own issues. It’s an intro we’ve seen a few times already, both in The Conjuring and the first Annabelle movie.
However, here we see what happened next. With the couple heading back home with the doll in tow but breaking down outside a graveyard. Cue spooky business that is par for the course in this franchise. Once that is out of the way, they arrive back home and put the doll in the sacred glass case and have it blessed by a priest.
The film then shifts focus to their young daughter Judy (McKenna Grace) who appears to have the same gift as her mother. She sees dead people and that, combined with what her parents do, has made her a recluse at school. Her one friend is Mary Ellen (Madison Iseman), her teenage babysitter. She has arrived at the Warrens to look after Judy as the Warrens are off to investigate another case.
Later, while trying to cheer Judy up and prepare for her upcoming birthday, a friend of Mary Ellen named Daniela (Katie Sarife) arrives. She pretends as though she wants to hang out but is actually more interested in the Warren’s haunted artefact room. Having lost her father in a car crash recently, she is hoping to contact him. However, her curiosity once inside, takes over and she ends up touching and interacting with several of the artefacts as well as opening the case that houses the Annabelle doll.
A big mistake as once free, the spirt of Annabelle Mullins begins to cause chaos and unleashes several other spirits that the Warrens had previously defeated. Spirits such as the Ferryman, the Bride, the Black Shuck and more.
If you’re already thinking that this sounds like overkill, you are right. Annabelle Comes Home is over the top and not in an entertaining way. Instead, what we have here are set-piece after set-piece as each evil spirit gets its moment to shine and rarely does it result in anything effective. If you’re hoping for something scary here, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. Especially if you’ve seen any of these films before as there is nothing original at all to be found.
If that wasn’t bad enough, most of these new spirits are rubbish. In particular the Black Shuck which is basically a CGI wolf.
Hilariously, the film will have an in-your face fright such as the Bride running at a character with a knife. Then shortly afterwards attempt to create subtly with something moving on a table. As if that could possibly work after seeing a spirit running and shrieking. It’s embarrassingly backwards and makes the whole film feel disjointed.
Where the film can be praised is with its acting but not its characters. Mckenna Grace, Madison Iseman, and Katie Sarife all do well with what they’re asked to do. However, their characters are overly familiar and harmed by stupidity. Sarife’s Daniela is one we are supposed to have sympathy before but her infuriating decision to mess around in the artefact room is too much. Grace’s Judy is sweet but we have had much stronger child characters in this franchise alone and Iseman’s Mary Ellen is fine until the film throws in a love story with the neighbour, Bob (Michael Cimino). Who is easily the worst thing in the movie.
When the story does ramp up, it just turns into a groan-inducing experience. One where every new scare attempt is met with rolling eyes. Where every dangerous turn has next to no stakes and no-one ever feels like they are actually being threatened with death.
It all culminates in one of the worst endings of the whole Conjuring Universe to date. One that has the movie feel like a waste of time and makes characters like the Warrens look like idiots.
So three Annabelle movies done (please let this be it) and only one of them is worth watching. Annabelle Comes Home is better then the original but not by much. Avoid this completely and if you really must watch one about the haunted doll, make it Annabelle: Creation.
Annabelle Comes Home
The Final Score - 4/10