Annabelle Comes Home
Mckenna Grace, Madison Iseman, Katie Sarife, Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Michael Cimino
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…low stakes, death-free, goreless, giggly thrills, full of goofy jump scares, wide-eyed teenagers and CGI ghosties…
Annabelle the doll first appeared in The Conjuring (2013) and was subsequently spun off into her own starring flick, Annabelle (2014). It was a powerfully awful film that nonetheless earned several dump trucks worth of cash, so a sequel (technically a prequel) was made, Annabelle: Creation (2017) and against all odds it was actually pretty bloody good. It also netted groaning sacks of filthy lucre, so naturally a third chapter, Annabelle Comes Home was spawned. So, does the old doll still have some new tricks? Actually, kinda yeah.
Annabelle Comes Home features an appearance by the Warrens, Ed and Lorraine (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga respectively) but they’re less an important plot element and more a reminder of the larger cinematic universe. No, the real story of ACH revolves around Judy Warren (Mckenna Grace) and her babysitter Mary Ellen (Madison Iseman), the latter of whom is looking after the former while the elder Warrens are away for the night. Judy and Mary Ellen are almost somnambulistically wholesome, so it’s a relief when Mary Ellen’s friend Daniela (Katie Sarife) pops over to liven them up. Daniela is dealing with the recent death of her father, so when she gets a quiet moment, she decides to have a look in the Warrens’ room of evil aka The Spin-Off Closet. Naturally a certain almost comically ugly doll catches her eye and, well, you can probably figure out where this is going.
The striking thing about Annabelle Comes Home is its distinct tone, which sets it apart from other Annabelle films and The Conjuring series as a whole. While recent spin-offs like The Nun (2018) and The Curse of the Weeping Woman (2019) have felt like dollar store Conjuring knock-offs, Annabelle Comes Home embraces its logical position as safe horror for pre-teens. It’s low stakes, death-free, goreless, giggly thrills, full of goofy jump scares, wide-eyed teenagers and CGI ghosties that wouldn’t look out of place in the next Goosebumps film.
Director Gary Dauberman is clearly having a hoot with this flick, and the young cast – particularly Katie Sarife and Mckenna Grace – do solid work here as well. Ultimately, Annabelle Comes Home is a film that knows what it is and performs accordingly. It certainly won’t be for horror aficionados looking for something that transcends genre boundaries, but is highly likely to be a much shrieked at classic of pre-teen slumber parties.