Annabelle Comes Home is the latest entry in the growing Conjuring Universe, and the third film for the spinoff series. Following the success of The Conjuring in the summer of 2013, a spinoff centered on the demonic doll was released the year after. Despite its connection to The Conjuring, Annabelle was a massive flop critically. In 2017, Annabelle: Creation proved that there may be a chance for this doll to have its own successful series after all. So how does Annabelle Comes Home live up to its predecessor?
Written and directed by Gary Dauberman, the film takes place in the household of demonologists Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga). After bringing the titular possessed doll to their artifacts room and placing her behind sacred glass, the duo leaves their ten-year-old daughter Judy (McKenna Grace) with a babysitter (Madison Iseman). An unholy night of terror and mayhem ensues after Annabelle is released from containment by a friend (Katie Sarife) of Judy’s babysitter.
As made clear in the film’s trailers and TV spots, Annabelle Comes Home is The Conjuring’s demented version of Night at the Museum. In other words, the film features several new demons and spirits that could receive their own solo movie at some point in the future. Mckenna Grace, who is quickly on her way to becoming the next big actress, gives an amazing performance as the Warren’s daughter Judie. Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga are hitting it out of the park as well for what little screen time they are given here. In the past, Gary Dauberman has written three films in The Conjuring franchise. This includes Annabelle, Annabelle: Creation, and the abysmal mess that was The Nun, but this is his first time serving as writer and director.
While not as effective as Annabelle: Creation, this latest outing is still a decent entry for the series, and far superior to the original Annabelle from 2014. It starts out strong with the Warrens, but then after ten minutes or so they vanish, and the rest of the run time is spent with Judie, her babysitter, and the irresponsible friend of the babysitter. Surprisingly, it doesn’t descend into an absolute waste of time and even manages to get away with a few humorous moments. The premise is the simplest in the series, and that’s why it’s not as bad as some of the other spinoffs in this universe.
Annabelle Comes Home doesn’t offer anything new to the genre, and the setup that leads to this unholy night of terror is entirely idiotic. Most of the scares are borrowed from previous entries and aren’t as effective. However, I will give the film credit for trying to make sense of the ridiculousness by relating the motives to an emotional subplot. That doesn’t discredit the stupidity that follows even after the demons become unleashed.
Thankfully, the trio of young actresses involved give above average performances that will keep audiences interested till the credits, and their characters are likable and relatable. Judie is a ten year old girl struggling to make friends and no one seems interested in coming to her upcoming birthday party. Mary Ellen, who is babysitting Judie, is an innocent school girl with a crush on the boy across the street. Daniela, the irresponsible friend of Mary Ellen, is holding onto a traumatic experience and blames herself for the events that occurred.
This is a simple popcorn horror movie with good performances, callbacks to previous entries in the series, and a look at what could lie ahead in this universe. There is fun to be had here with the third entry in the Annabelle series, but if you are looking for an emotional rollercoaster with a triumphant payoff then this isn’t it. For those that want to see a group of girls running room to room from different demons then you will be satisfied.
Annabelle Comes Home is a straightforward horror film that isn’t breaking new ground. While it isn’t as good as its predecessor, it still manages to deliver an entertaining nightmare at The Warrens for fans of The Conjuring to enjoy.