The Conjuring spinoff Annabelle Comes Home has the feel of a been there, done that before vibe. It also marks Gary Dauberman, writer of the franchise, directorial debut. While he can nicely up some creepy set pieces, the notion of knowing how to scare the socks off of people needs a lesson by living at Chillingham Castle for a month.
When the doll briefly seen in the main series gets a spinoff to explain her origins and we all know it’s possessed by a demonic entity, Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) have their work cut out for them. Sadly, that means tracking this porcelain work down and convincing the latest owners it’s best to let them have it so they can protect humanity from it. Wait a minute, isn’t that what Zak Bagans of Ghost Adventures fame want to do too?
As much as I’d love to see Robert the Doll shack up with Annabelle, that will not happen. Sorry Chucky, but you’re not up to their league. With the death of Lorraine earlier this year, just who manages the real museum where Annabelle rests is with the son-in-law Tony Spera and the address revealed is not the same as the one in the movie. This difference sets the cinematic universe apart from the real world paranormal going on and thankfully so. I figure Annabelle would have a fit and show some love for all the attention she’s getting.
This doll quietly acts like a magnet for any other malicious force nearby to come attend. With this movie, the wait for other forces to arrive is a slow burn. New threats–Hellhounds, Samurais and Bridal Veil–notwithstanding, this universe need not be a variation of a beloved TV classic, Friday the 13th, the Series. I’m fairly sure I’ve seen the cursed television featured in this film before and all the other objects, including the clapping monkey, just lessens the work instead of enhancing. These films are more of a guilty pleasure to go see and they never won rewards for being original.
Also, I’m not sure how comfortable I’d be living in a house that has a bunch of cursed objects supposedly safely sealed away by a wing and a prayer, but Ed and Lorraine Warren’s daughter Judy (Mckenna Grace) is okay with it. Even the babysitter Mary Ellen (Madison Iseman) shrugs it off since they are ‘safe.’ However, when BFF Daniela (Katie Sarife) is extra company, things are bound to go wrong.
The film ends up being carnival ride of terror that’s more chuckle-worthy than nightmarish. Daniela goes into where she’s not allowed and unleashes the spirits. Annabelle wants out, the original girl Bee wants to come home, and when films from this world are not filmed back to back featuring the same young actress, keeping track of which Belle is whom can be quite the task!
The result is simply a muddled mess of an ongoing series. I enjoyed The Conjuring series well enough where I wished the focus remained with Ed and Lorraine. The Annabelle series, including the latest, is more about world building and now introducing the next generation, Judy. She’s important in the real world and never had issues with what her parents did for a living; the fact she maintains the cursed room because nobody else can says she’s brave.
With the main film series going forward with The Conjuring 3 for it’s Autumn release, the timing is more about keeping paranormal movie seekers interested before All Hallow’s Eve arrives. What I need is a better paranormal film from Asia since August is Hungry Ghost Month!
2½ Stars out of 5