Verdict: Gary Dauberman excels in his directorial debut as Annabelle gets scarier.
Annabelle, a spin-off series in The Conjuring Universe, has got yet another movie. Third in the series and seventh in the larger universe, Annabelle Comes Home follows the series of events after The Conjuring 2. Gary Dauberman makes his directorial debut with this one, having written the previous Annabelle films as well as The Nun. The story has also been co-written by James Wan, who is the main guy behind this evil universe. While The Conjuring did set a benchmark for horror movies, the series had stumbled a bit with The Nun and The Curse of the Weeping Woman. With Annabelle Comes Home, The Conjuring Universe gets a boost as the series returns to its usual style of evil horror.
What’s Annabelle Comes Home About:
Paranormal investigators Lorraine and Ed Warren (Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson) bring home a creepy doll who is known to be possessed by an evil spirit. They lock her up in their basement of similar possessed artifacts, never to be opened again. But rarely do things go as they’re supposed to in a horror movie and a year later, Annabelle is released to unleash hell again. The couple’s daughter Judy Warren (McKenna Grace) is home alone for the weekend in the care of her babysitter Mary Ellen (Madison Iseman) and her friend Daniela (Katie Sarife). Aware of the Warrens’ profession, Daniela wanders off into the basement where she finds Annabelle and unintentionally releases her powers. But this time, Annabelle is not acting alone. She has also awakened the evil spirits in the basement and the three girls are in for a whole weekend of intense horror.
Horror movies usually skimp on important plot points and focus rather on the scare tactics, but Annabelle Comes Home gives you both. There is a background story established for each character’s development throughout the movie, explaining their intentions. We understand why Judy is having trouble fitting in at school due to her parents’ unusual profession and ill fame, or why Daniela’s desire to meet her dead father once again drives her to the Warrens’ basement in the first place. These plot points establish some sympathy for the characters. It also gives the actors an opportunity to build realistic characters for a not-so-realistic film, thus making their performances more convincing. While Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson only make smaller appearances in this film, the three girls manage to hold on to our attention well enough.
The Annabelle series has had some of the best jump scares in the Conjuring Universe and Annabelle Comes Home continues that streak. These moments are well-paced out by debutant director Gary Dauberman, ensuring that the audience is engaged throughout. Light and sound effects are also appropriately used to create a desired emotion within the viewer. The Warren house has a Victorian setting, which adds to the eeriness of the film.
What Could’ve Been Better:
Annabelle Comes Home does not have too much gore and its ‘A’ rating seems unnecessary. This is perfect to enjoy on a night-out with friends but will not have you clawing your face in fear. There are also moments created solely for comic relief, which can be avoided in this genre of films.
Why You Should Watch:
If you haven’t watched the previous Annabelle movies or any films in the larger Conjuring Universe, Annabelle Comes Home still works just fine as a stand-alone film. Otherwise, this movie brings back the classic style of horror we have been awaiting from the Conjuring universe. It’s a spookfest that guarantees chills and thrills.