Set in the horrifying Conjuring universe where paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren travel around the world and investigate strange phenomenons, perform exorcisms, and help families out with evil spirits, have both seen some truly terrifying things. The catch is that it’s all real or at least based on real-life events. With all of these horror movies that started with The Conjuring, there have been a few spinoff movies. The most popular of them is the frightening possessed doll named Annabelle, which is now on its third movie titled Annabelle Comes Home. Directed by Gary Dauberman, who has been the lead writer on the past Annabelle films, this sequel is his first foray into the director’s chair with original filmmaker James Wan producing. The result is too much of a slow pace for its own good, in addition to taking itself too seriously in an already flooded cheap scare and tiresome plot that we have seen two dozen times before.
I didn’t quite think it was possible to make yet another film about the creepy doll Annabelle, but luckily the plastic toy plays second fiddle to something larger at work. We all know that the Warren’s have that sacred room full of artifacts that are all haunted and cursed, where they tell people never to go inside. More particularly, Annabelle’s glass case has its own warning to never ever open it. This is because the doll is some sort of conduit for the other spirits and demons that are trapped inside the other artifacts the Warrens have collected over the years. You can see where the film is going.
Ed and Lorraine (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) head out on an overnight trip out of town and leave their 10-year old daughter with the family babysitter – a teenage girl who genuinely cares for the family. That evening, one of the babysitter’s school friends heads over and ends up snooping around the sacred, scary room. This friend ends up touching every thing and frees Annabelle out of the case and all hell breaks loose, releasing every demon and ghost inside the Warren’s house upon these three young women.
It’s a good setup, but ultimately a poor execution as we are constantly treated to very slow walks down dark hallways with all of the appropriate noises and creaks, only to have a cheap jump scare or some demon growl at you. It’s effective, but there’s nothing original here and everything looks cheesy with an abundant overuse of the fog machine in every scene. The characters are all too serious here with the exception of one hilarious pizza delivery guy and a high-school crush, which always livens up the screen. It’s just too bad it’s all too short in the fun department.
What Annabelle Coming Home does well is set up a treasure trove of other possible spinoff movies that could feature a violent samurai warrior, and killer bride, a toy cymbal monkey, a spooky television that tells the future, and a scary-as-hell werewolf that I hope receives some more air time soon. All of these other demonic forces look and sound excellent, but we only get a small glimpse of them in the movie. Instead, we just follow these three young girls as they scream and try to survive the evening.
In the end, Annabelle Comes Home is worth your time if you’ve kept up with the horror series, but you can stand to wait it out until Netflix.