Annabelle Comes Home
2019, R, 106 min. Directed by Gary Dauberman. Starring Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Mckenna Grace, Madison Iseman, Katie Sarife, Steve Coulter, Emily Brobst, Samara Lee, Michael Cimino, Stephen Blackehart.
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., June 28, 2019
James Wan’s so-called “Conjuring Universe” of interrelated lo-fi creepshows continues with this seventh entry featuring the titular devil doll (racking up her third standalone feature) and assorted series regulars. Now looking like the unsettling aftermath of a Carol Channing/Marty Feldman car crash, Annabelle’s “home” is in a glass case in the basement of husband-and-wife demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren (Wilson, Farmiga). Bound by biweekly prayer visitations from Father Gordon (Coulter) and regular showers of holy water, Annabelle nonetheless manages to again wreak hellacious havoc after the Warrens leave their precocious – and psychic! – tween daughter Judy (Grace) in the care of babysitter Mary Ellen (Iseman) and her overly curious, semi-bad gal pal Daniela (Sarife).
Since their introduction in 2013’s The Conjuring, the Warrens have amassed a veritable reliquary of accursed items, malicious knickknacks, and the occasional malevolent board game, all of which are safely locked away in their basement. Well, not that safe, of course. Despite the pointed “Warning! Do not enter!” sign posted on the basement o’ doom’s door, Daniela snoops her way in and accidentally on purpose frees the eponymous manikin. There’s a bit of subplot involving the recent demise of her father and the resultant survivor’s guilt, but that’s of lesser importance to the story than the newly resurrected Annabelle’s ability to unleash unholy terror in her ongoing quest to steal someone’s soul. Or something like that.
Debuting director and frequent series scribe Dauberman throws everything he can think of against the sitters and their charge, not least among them a fully kitted-out samurai warrior and a werewolf, but the shock cuts and cheap scares grow tiring quickly, even for die-hard fans of the Conjuring clique. What keeps Annabelle Comes Home from being an outright yawn-fest is the film’s innate sense of goofy humor. Kudos to Cimino as Bob, a lovesick dope given to riffing on Say Anything…’s Lloyd Dobler and his boombox wooing, as well as a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo from The Addams Family member Thing.
Neither the worst nor the best of the Conjuring franchise, Annabelle Comes Home is only as creepy as it needs to be and no more. Keep your expectations low and you might just enjoy it.