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Movie ReviewsAnnabelle Comes Home – A Slow Burn Horror (Early Review)

Keith NoakesJune 25, 201985/100
Starring
McKenna Grace, Madison Iseman, Katie Sarife
Writer
Gary Dauberman
Director
Gary Dauberman
Rating
14A (Canada), R (United States)
Running Time
108 minutes
Release Date
June 26th, 2019
Overall Score
Rating Summary
Annabelle Comes Home takes a little while to come together but when it does, it's a thrilling horror experience that excels in creating a palpable sense of dread throughout. The most Conjuring-adjacent spinoff so far is easily the best Annabelle and Conjuring spinoff so far.

The original Annabelle was the first spin-off of the popular Conjuring series and since its release has become a franchise in its own right. This franchise has seen quite an evolution from the original film which was generally not well-received by critics and audiences to its improved sequel/prequel Annabelle: Creation. This new entry, entitled Annabelle Comes Home, takes the titular uber-creepy doll and places her in the Warrens’ home for a new adventure. This Conjuring spin-off marks the first time that Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson’s Lorraine and Ed Warren make an appearance in a non-Conjuring film and this would only be a benefit to this film as they each brought their impeccable screen presence in their limited screen time.

Now unlike the main Conjuring series, they would play a minor role here as we can look forward to them in the upcoming third installment of the main Conjuring series. In this film, it would be Lorraine and Ed’s daughter Judy (Grace) and her own spiritual abilities taking the spotlight here. She would just be one part of a Conjuring-adjacent story that would offer plenty of insight into the Warrens and the rest of the Conjuring world. Judy’s childhood was clearly different from most kids. Her parents’ profession was not quite common knowledge but this would change as their work became more and more publicized. Conversely, this notoriety meant the spreading of several misconceptions about the Warrens and her home life which did not make it easy for her at school and with other kids.

Despite all of this, Judy and the Warrens still had a reliable babysitter named Mary Ellen (Iseman) who was close with Judy and who would be tasked to babysit Judy while Lorraine and Ed were away on business. Joined by Mary Ellen’s best friend Daniela (Sarife), things would quickly get worse for them once she somehow got removed from her protective case within the Warrens’ room of cursed, possessed, and/or objects used in ritual practices. Some audiences may take issue with the story’s slow pace. By taking more of a smaller-scale and character-centric approach, the film was compelling to watch but is still had to do a lot of setting up that seemingly took too long to come together. As each character’s subplot played out, it often felt like watching three different films.

While Judy, Mary Ellen, and Daniela’s subplots were playing out, these girls still had Annabelle to contend with. She was in her case for a reason if the previous two films were of any indication. In terms of being a horror film, many of the elements within Annabelle Comes Home shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. The story may have more or less been predictable and the jump scares may not have been the most original but it didn’t make the film any less engaging to watch, especially once it eventually ties all the subplots together even if it took a little too long to happen. Part of this was due to the incredible ambiance the film creates through lighting, sound design, and camerawork. However, Annabelle wasn’t alone as she would have the other oddities in the Warren’s home to tap into in what would serve as a greatest hits of sorts.

Ultimately, the best part of the film was its performances. The script could have been tighter but Grace, Iseman, and Sarife were still fun to watch and had great chemistry as Judy, Mary Ellen, and Daniela respectively. Through the heavy and surprisingly lighter moments, the girls had their own compelling arcs over the course of the film with each carrying them nicely. Grace, with best subplot of the three, carries the film while showing plenty of range. Iseman, with the arguably weakest subplot of the three, got better as the film went on. Sarife, with perhaps the weakest written character of the three, somewhat overcomes this by delivering a solid performance.

After watching what was in essence another Conjuring film, this reviewer wants another Lorraine and Ed Warren adventure sooner than later.

*still courtesy of Warner Bros.*


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