Movie: Annabelle Comes Home
Director – Gary Dauberman
Cast – McKenna Grace, Madison Iseman, Katie Sarife, Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga
Rating – <3/5
It’s rare for a series of spin-offs to outclass the originals, but that is precisely what is happening with the Annabelle series. The third and most recent, Annabelle Comes Home, is easily the best of the lot, and therefore, by law of elimination, better than both Conjuring films.
This isn’t high praise, by the way. The Conjuring franchise remains a baffling example of how, despite being rather ordinary, a series of films could alter the landscape for mainstream horror movies in Hollywood. They’ve spawned several imitators, each more terrible than the last.
Annabelle Comes Home is neither here nor there – too generic for hardcore horror fans to enjoy, and desperately lacking in jump scares, which is sure to dissatisfy longtime fans of the franchise.
But more than any previous entry in the Conjuring Universe, Annabelle Comes Home is perhaps the most directly connected to director James Wan’s originals. It begins with a familiar opening crawl, with blood red letters announcing the title and reassuring you that yes, you have arrived at the correct screening.
But in addition to relaying information that I have already forgotten, the opening crawl performs the double duty of re-introducing us to Ed and Lorraine Warren, played by a returning Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, as they acquire the creepy doll. The Conjuring series, at eight films old now, is established enough to offer fan service, which is perhaps why this prologue exists. I assume fans would be excited to learn how exactly Annabelle came to be in the Warrens’ possession.
The film has been directed by Gary Dauberman, who is both a franchise veteran and also a first-time director. Dauberman has previously written both previous Annabelle films, the eye-goungingly terrible The Nun, but crucially, also the wonderful Stephen King adaptation, It – an indication, perhaps, of just how limiting being stuck in a franchise can be. Promisingly, he does display a solid command over his craft, often elevating uninspired sequences by using nifty, in-camera trickery.