The Reel Review
This “tween-quel,” set after the first two Annabelle movies (Annabelle, Annabelle: Creation) but somewhere in the middle of the larger, seven-film, Conjuring franchise, is about the horrors unleashed in the Warren home after Ed and Lorraine (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) leave town for a job and the inquisitive friend of their daughter’s babysitter releases it from the sacred glass case in the family’s evil artifact room.
Despite a handful of requisite jump scares, the story is more creepy than it is scary, and the few scares it does possess are often tainted by oddly-timed comic relief, giving it the feel of a mildly entertaining, but awkwardly-constructed, high school Halloween haunted house. The film does an excellent job capturing the groovy, early 1970s setting, and Mckenna Grace (Gifted, I, Tonya) does a fine job as daughter Judy, who, like her mom, has the ability to see the dead around her – which should serve as some consolation since none of the other kids at school will play with her. But Madison Iseman (Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle) and Katie Sarife’s performances as the saccharine sweet babysitter and her bestie with a habit of not following directions, are less inspired.
In his directorial debut, Gary Dauberman (who co-wrote the story with The Conjuring writer/director James Wan) does offer up some clever moments and chilling demons, but it often feels more like a preview for future Conjuring films than a story interested in scaring the bejesus out of filmgoers. It is salvaged somewhat, however, by a sweet ending, once Ma and Pa Warren return home to clean up the kids’ unholy mess.
• The real Annabelle doll is in the Warrens’ Occult Museum in Monroe, Connecticut. Unlike the doll in the films, it is a Raggedy Ann doll whose owner claimed would mysteriously appear in different rooms of her apartment in disturbingly odd poses, along with brief messages scrawled in red crayon on parchment paper.
• Annabelle Comes Home hit theaters on June 26 – Mckenna Grace’s 13th birthday.
• The Conjuring 3 just started production in Atlanta, Georgia with a scheduled release for September 2020.