by Kyle Arango
The Conjuring universe worth of films has quietly been one of the most successful franchises out there. Unfortunately, the spinoffs have not been anywhere near the quality of the main films. Annabelle and The Nun are terrible films, but they both made money. Annabelle Creation then turned it around by being an improvement on the original and making people excited for more films. Now that we are getting a third Annabelle film, can it continue this franchise’s upward trajectory? I mean sure, why not? While nowhere near a bad film, Annabelle Comes Home isn’t great either and settles for fun scares instead of pushing the envelope.
Annabelle Comes Home takes us back to the Warrens where we see the day they first got the doll Annabelle and brought it home. They place it in their room for all things that will scare you later and close it in a glass case. One year later a teenager who lost her father comes over to the house after hearing rumors of who the Warrens are and hopes she can communicate with her father once more.Of course, while doing this she releases Annabelle from her cage and the movie goes about as you would expect after that. That is what was so disappointing about this film. While they have a solid premise and good ideas, they never take the next step and further explore those ideas. They just settle for scares and never dig deeper. There are themes of loneliness and neglect that are presented but never find a satisfying conclusion. It’s like you are building a puzzle and a couple pieces are missing and you are just left with an idea that is never complete. That is what’s happening in Annabelle Comes Home.
While it may seem as if I’m cold on this film, I actually had an interesting time with Annabelle Comes Home. Can’t really say I enjoyed the experience because I was shaking in my seat and covering my face, but the film did its job. It scared me. Now, that is not necessarily a difficult task, but the scares were always well earned. This film plays with your expectations. There are so many moments where you know that a scare is about to happen, you can feel it, and then it doesn’t, and you breathe a sigh of relief. It teases you and I appreciated that about the film. The first legit scare doesn’t come until about 20 to 25 minutes into the film. Don’t worry though, it makes up for it by the end. That is also part of the problem, none of the scares ever mean anything. There is never a reason why a specific person is being targeted, it just happens to everyone and while you are frightened at the time, you realize after that it just felt empty.
Something else worth praising is some of the performances by the actors. Madison Iseman is somebody we need to start talking about. She usually plays this beautiful young adult who has the typical stereotypes but in this film, she is allowed to expand herself. She plays the babysitter who has a close relationship with our protagonist Jody. She is essentially a motherly/big sister character and Iseman stands out by bringing compassion and an understanding to her character. She could easily be horror victim number two, but her performance warrants the character to endure. McKenna Grace is also solid as Jody. She has been popping up in everything lately and is now one of the most respected child actors. Her character is just a lost child found in the wrong situation and she makes it work. Both of these actresses have terrific chemistry and make their characters who could’ve been caricatures into fully realized people. Katie Sarife does the same and also brings levity to her role. Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga are also back as the Warrens and while they don’t have much screen time, they chew up what they have and are as great as they always are.
Annabelle Comes Home, while an entertaining film, never quite crosses the line to being something to run home about. It has solid scares and performances and messes with your expectations, but most of it never really means anything and as a result makes the film a tad forgettable. Horror and Conjuring fans will definitely enjoy this and if you pay money to see it, it won’t be a waste of time.
The Verdict: 3/5 Stars