Quick Hit: Well-versed despite being cliché in stretches.
If you would have told me that we would have eventually morphed the movie The Conjuring into a set of different series that is now on its 8th film, I honestly wouldn’t believe you. Though I really enjoyed the movie, particularly the leads, I would not have expected it to go this direction. But I was wrong, and under James Wan’s watchful eye, the series has grown and the majority of the entries aren’t just worth watching – they’re good films. That continues in the third movie exploring the haunted doll Annabelle – Annabelle Comes Home.
The film essentially functions as a prequel to the original Conjuring film. It picks up with Ed Warren (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) leaving to take Annabelle from the farmhouse to their own home. After sealing it inside church glass, they leave – off to another spiritual place. However, that leaves their young daughter Judy Warren (Mckenna Grace of Gifted) at home with her long time babysitter, Mary Ellen. Of course, since Mary Ellen doesn’t want to be alone all weekend, she also brings along her friend Daniela. Daniela has her own backstory – she’s been struggling since the death of her father.
So let’s get the bad out of the way first – most of the time I start with the good, but COVID measures have me feeling squirrely. The bad is that everyone in this film seems to follow the typical horror movie logic of doing dumb things. From purposely ignoring POSTED SIGNS, to having very dubious motivations for things, there are a lot of really unfortunate decisions that get made.
However, than good outweighs the bad in that the stuff that works really does. Director/Writer Gary Dauberman chooses to expand the universe by fleshing out different items within the Warren’s personal collection. There’s a bride, a werewolf, and the terrifically scary Ferryman, with coins for the eyes and everything. The creature design is really, really good, and Dauberman finds interesting ways to introduce the characters from the shadows. There’s a lot of times you find your eyes searching the background of the screen, waiting and knowing the next jump scare is approaching, but not knowing where it’s going to come from. It’s really good. I also can’t commend young Grace enough – she somehow manages to convey so much of what being the child of the Warren’s would be. It’s a lot of different emotions, and I really liked the idea of giving us some sense of what it would be like.
And of course, there’s the humor that wryly finds its way into the film. I wouldn’t have thought I would find ways to laugh if this movie was good (and not hilariously bad – I’m looking at you Bye Bye Man), but I did anyway, and that’s because of the way that Dauberman plays on your emotions throughout the film. When you’re constantly looking for scares, when humor arrives, it’s disarming and gets you to chuckle. I found this mainly in the character of the Bob, who desperately wants to impress and gets his own scares from a werewolf.
So I’d highly suggest this one. It wasn’t quite as good as the last one for me, but I’d give it a “B-“.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"