The Conjureverse has some pretty cool little scary movies as part of its shared vision and it also has some that aren’t so good. The Nun wasn’t very good (loved the sets, loved the Fulci touches, found the rest boring) and the first Annabelle was a dud. The Annabelle sequel/prequel was good because it felt like they tired of the same old Conjuring formula about halfway through the movie and decided “fuck it, let’s tear some shit up.” That made it fun. How does the new Annabelle fare as compared to her sister films?
I think, in short, if you like the other Annabelle movies, you’ll like this one. It returns the series to its “Conjuring” roots, meaning there’s nothing off the wall or batshit crazy like the second Annabelle film. This one plays it pretty conservatively, in respects to where it comes from as well as its religion.
It’s hard to get into the movie without giving out some spoilers, so here’s your warning: skip this paragraph if you don’t want any spoilers (although what I’m going to give is pretty mild). Okay? Okay. Here it is: besides a prologue and epilogue featuring Ed and Lorraine Warren, the bulk of the film takes place over one terrifying day and night, where Annabelle gets let loose in the Warren house, activating the evil spirits attached to the other haunted objects that reside in that infamous locked room. A group of three young ladies and one goofy young dude get put to the test, fighting murderous ghosts and even the ghost of a werewolf (you read that right). It’s kind of a tour-de-force of All Things Warren and plays almost lost a Greatest Hits of their career, minus the Warrens actually being present, of course. I have the feeling that if Ed and Lorraine were there, they would sigh and wrap up the problems in a few minutes, whereas these youngsters are put through the paces. It all wraps up nice and neat by the end (a little too neat, maybe) and we all leave the theater feeling pretty good about things (to some very killer closing credits). So, in other words, we get a supernatural roller coaster ride that touches on subjects like grief and dying and the desperation of losing a loved one (and guilt), but only on a very surface level. Which, I suppose, is my only problem with this string of films in the Conjureverse: there’s plenty of thrill, but very little substance.
This felt like it was the final film in the Annabelle series. I hope it is. No offense to the filmmakers, but this story kind of wrings out all that is left to tell and anything after this would just be repeating themselves (although to be fair, they’re doing that already). The acting is terrific and it’s great to see Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson in their signature roles again, but it just makes me itchy to get another, actual Conjuring film. They ground and center the proceedings and then they’re gone and it’s kind of like “the kids are loose on their own and my what trouble they get into.” Also, it’s about ten minutes too long.
Annabelle Comes Home is mostly a thrillride of a movie, the kind you go to, scream some, jump some, and laugh some. Nothing wrong with that. It’s a good, solid spookshow flick and that would never hurt my feelings any. I saw it with a great crowd who jumped and screamed and hollered at all the right points and made things even more fun. This is what going to see scary movies is for. But in the end, it’s nothing more than surface-level thrills, and like a good Pop song, you’ll remember it but it will fade after time. Annabelle Comes Home isn’t a classic, but it’s fun, and that’s pretty cool all on its own.
Two and a Half Buckets of Blood
Kelly is the author of dozens of stories and dozens of reviews, he likes to write, he likes to read, he likes going to the movies, and he loves to laugh. He hails from the wilds of Kentucky and if you'd like to see more of his work, check out his website www.kellymhudson.com