Determined to keep Annabelle from wreaking more havoc, demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren bring the possessed doll to the locked artifacts room in their home, placing her “safely” behind sacred glass and enlisting a priest’s holy 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, and her friends.
Annabelle Comes Home Video Review:
Annabelle Comes Home Trailer:
One of the absolute best things with Annabelle Comes Home is the extremely eerie and creepy setting in movie. Director/writer Gary Dauberman did a fantastic job of establishing an atmosphere that immersed audiences into a 1970s world that felt like a total nightmare. In some scenes we had very dimly lit areas where only a ray of light may be shown to highlight a character or something else. In other instances the scenes would be covered in a thick fog or, even more frightening, dark rooms with maybe only a flashlight available. All of this created the perfect setup for ghosts and jump scares to really keep you on edge for the entire movie.
After the spooky scenes and situations are all setup, the film really kicks into second gear with its solid cinematography. If you’re a fan of this Conjuring franchise, then you’ll probably notice some familiar camera tactics when it came to showing some of the ghost scares. While it was slightly disappointing to see some recycled scare tactics, they were still pretty effective in this movie nevertheless. To be more specific, there was a scene in this film that looked extremely familiar to that epic scene of “The Nun” from The Conjuring 2 (2016) (click here if you dare). Aside from that, my personal favorite occurrence was whenever there were multiple things happening in the same frame. If you pay close attention, there often would be very subtle things happening in the background of the scene while the main character could be doing something else. This type of camerawork really helps to mess with your mind as a viewer because you might be focused on what the main character is saying while something else could be moving in the corner of your eye. This was just yet another excellent way to really drum up the fear factor in this film.
One other positive here was how the camera shots were used in the movie to subvert your expectations. You could almost tell that the director anticipated the expectation of the audience and went ahead and toyed with those expectations. Sometimes they would pay off with a well timed jump scare, and sometimes they would be a complete send off. This film really does a good job of making the jump scares count rather than just throwing them for the sake of a cheap reaction.
As for the acting in Annabelle Comes Home, overall it got the job done. I thought Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson were solid, although I kind of wished they had more screen time. The strongest performances probably came from both Madison Iseman “Mary Ellen” and Katie Sarife “Daniela”. I think the reason why they stood out so much, besides being the lead characters in the movie, was because of their emotional reactions which were very relatable. When they were scared out of their minds, it was really easy to empathize and connect with them in those specific moments. Besides the two main female leads, I thought there was an unconventional supporting character in this film that was great. The Warren’s room that housed all of the cursed objects practically felt like a character in itself. There were so many interesting items throughout it that each seemed to express a different story as we experienced them. Speaking of which, that room felt like a treasure trove of potential future movies. Similar to how the Conjuring franchise spawned it’s spin-off movies, you’ll quickly notice a lot of hints at future movies that could be made. I thought this was a cool way to get people potentially invested in future movies, and at the same time it provided a number of possible ways to scare audiences.
Unfortunately, this is yet another horror movie plagued with a character that makes really stupid decisions. For as much as I liked the character of Daniella, her curiosity fell into the typical horror trope of stupid decision-making. I think the film missed a good opportunity to drive home emotional motivations of Daniella’s actions, but instead they just had her do obviously dumb things multiple times. It got kind of annoying because it made her character’s actions feel like just a convenient plot device to get the movie going. It’s disappointing because the plot offered other, more authentic ways for the story to unfold. Nevertheless, the direction chosen in her situation felt cheap.
One other minor issue was some of the comic relief in the film. I didn’t mind the running joke about “Bob”, but I do think that the film could’ve done without the humor in the weird pizza delivery scene. The movie did a really good job of getting us all in the mood of being scared, and that scene just really broke the tension.
Annabelle Comes Home is a scary fun time with a doll you’d never want to play with. While this film does have some minor flaws that most horror films commit, it’s still overall a pretty good movie. I don’t think it’ll give many people nightmares, but I think you’ll have a good enough time enjoying the scares and terrors. When it comes to where this ranks within the current Annabelle trilogy, I’d probably say that Annabelle: Creation (2017) comes in on top, then Annabelle Comes Home, and the first Annabelle (2014) would be way at the bottom. I also think that Annabelle Comes Home will create two different experiences depending on how you watch it. If you watch it with an audience in a theater, you’ll probably laugh and be scared at the same time. If you dare to watch it only at home with the lights off, then you’ll probably experience more of the scares and less of the laughs. Either way, be sure to check it out whenever you can.
Director: Gary Dauberman
Writers: James Wan, Gary Dauberman
Stars: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Mckenna Grace
- Acting - 7/107/10
- Cinematography - 8/108/10
- Plot/Screenplay - 7/107/10
- Setting/Theme - 9/109/10
- Buyability - 8.5/108.5/10
- Recyclability - 8.5/108.5/10