The Best in the Annabelle Series and one of the Best in the Conjuring Universe
DIRECTED BY GARY DAUBERMAN/2019
Annabelle, the demon-carrying creepy doll from two prior installments, the first one terrible and the second one decent enough, is back. This time her evil shenanigans will no longer be tolerated by Ed and Lorraine Warren, the demonologists who have essentially become the Avengers of the horror world. The movie starts with them finding Annabelle, and through a rocky evening of dead bodies coming from a graveyard and diesel trucks trying to run them down, they are able to get her to their forbidden spirit room and lock her in a cage where she will not be able to hurt anyone else ever again.
Except that’s only the five-minute point of Annabelle Comes Home.
Ed and Lorraine’s ten year old daughter, Judy, played by the super talented and adorable Mckenna Grace, knows enough about what her parents do to keep herself safe, but not quite enough to stop all hell when it breaks loose.
When Judy’s babysitter Mary Ellen (Madison Iseman) comes over for the evening, giving the Warren’s a break, and also dispatching of the two characters who can protect them, she is followed by her best friend Daniela (Katie Sarife), who is still dealing with her father’s untimely death, which she blames herself for. Daniela, sadly and desperately, explores the haunted trophy room looking for a way to speak to her father again. While down there, she accidently frees Annabelle and unleashes her hell onto the house for the evening.
I didn’t know what to expect from Annabelle Comes Home going into it, but what unfolded was not only a pleasant surprise, but completely blew me away.
This movie is better than it has any right to be. The set pieces are inventive and well-constructed when they could easily have been cheap and over-reliant on cuts, like many other horror films. There is one particular scene, with a bride circling a room, that is terrifying.
The horror in this movie is much more impactful than any standard horror movie and served by an explosive ending. And that ending would not have been what it was if it wasn’t for the craft and patience in the first half. The acting is better than usual, especially from Grace, who seems to be on her way to a solid career. And there are moments in the film that I thought were so smart, including one with a girl being able to see about five seconds into the future through a television.
And what I liked most was the good-natured demeanor of all the characters. Daniela is sympathetic, and even though she is the reason everything goes to hell, you completely understand why she did it. If you have ever lost someone close who you were unable to give a proper goodbye to, you would do anything for that last chance to talk to them.
Oftentimes horror movies like to punish their characters when they are deemed worthy, but none of the characters in this movie are punishable. Judy is shy, innocent and kind-hearted. Mary Ellen wants to protect her as much as the viewer does. And Daniela is a grieving soul who means no harm to anyone. When you throw in a neighbor boy who wants to win over Mary Ellen in the sweetest ways possible and, of course, the Warrens, who continue their untarnished American family persona, in spite of fighting some of the darkest evil humanity will ever see, then you have a group of people who need each other and care about each other. Which is what they need if they plan on surviving the evening from Annabelle.