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Film Review: Annabelle Comes Home

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The doll of nightmares is no longer Chucky, its Annabelle. Having already two spin-off films, the demonic doll (based on a real life possessed Raggedy-Anne Doll) has managed to creep her way into pop culture lore after frightening, albeit short, appearances in the popular and brilliant Conjuring films. Annabelle (2014) was a forgettable and weak horror film, however the prequel Annabelle: Creation (2017) is a far superior tale. Bringing a genuine sense of horror and appealing narrative to the creation of the dreaded character.

The plot of Annabelle Comes Home is oddly simple, yet effective in its straightforwardness. Determined to keep Annabelle from wreaking more havoc, demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) bring the possessed doll to the locked artifacts room in their home, placing her “safely” behind sacred glass and enlisting a priest’s routine blessing. But an unholy night of horror awaits as Annabelle awakens the evil spirits in the room, who all set their sights on a new target — the Warrens’ ten-year-old daughter, Judy (Mckenna Grace) and her friends.

By setting this tale primarily in the Warren’s cosy abode above their infamous demonology room was a stroke of genius. However, this exciting premise is short-lived. The film desperately wants to be something other than what it is, a movie about a demonic doll. Once things start going bump in the night after Judy’s babysitters decide to go snooping, Annabelle takes a back seat to some of the other ghouls lurking in the Warren’s spectre prison. Diminishing already the low stakes of the proceedings.

In his first film as director Gary Dauberman, who wrote the other Annabelle films (as well as co-writing It and The Nun) shows a developing hand for horror, however most of this terror comes from negative space or empty frames, which loses its effect the more he relies on it. Waiting for a jump scare over and over is tiresome. It (2017) was one of the best horror scripts of recent times and The Nun (2018) was one of the worst… this falls more to the later. That all said, the films best moments are when the effects displayed without digital assistance. There is digital work in the film but all the trickery adheres to wonderfully effective old-school aesthetics. That is until a werewolf appears (what?). The father of this cinematic universe, James Wan has effectively made sure that Annabelle has remained unanimated. She never moves on her own, it’s the weight and reverence given to her that makes her so scary. Wilson and Farmiga once again give strong performances as the Warrens albeit their roles are just an extended cameo. Mckenna Grace is wonderful as Judy and Katie Sarife as the doomed babysitter is annoyingly real.

This probably won’t be the last Annabelle film, but her coming home has just the right amount of self-awareness that allow us to feel the reality of the situation but also enjoy the fright ride. Annabelle could be under your bed, but you probably wouldn’t care.

Annabelle Comes Home
2.5 Our Score
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Pros
Its effective in its formula which the team behind these spin-offs have embraced fully. The young actresses are convincing. The jump scares and low lighting work in the first half.
Cons
The second half – where the tricks lose their scare factor and the lack of stakes become clear. Who ordered a Werewolf? No one.
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As the website founder, innovator and owner of www.screenscoop.com, Kosta Sakellariou is the primary event correspondent for all Sydney based red carpet events. His infatuation and 6th sense instinct for identifying the latest film news have lead to the creation of ScreenScoop, which strives to report, inform and entertain fans who share this same passion around the globe. Get in the loop with #ScreenScoop

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