Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Review: Annabelle Comes Home

Release date: June 26, 2019
Running time: 106 minutes
Starring: Vera Farmiga, Mckenna Grace, Patrick Wilson 

Annabelle Comes Home is the latest movie in the long-running (potentially too long running) Conjuring Cinematic Universe.  The movie is loosely tied into previous movies in the world, with the creepy doll Annabelle making a major (though not as major as I would have expected) appearance.  The movie ties into the lives of ghost hunters Lorraine and Ed Warren, though this movie deals more with their daughter Judy.  

If you've seen any of the movies in this universe, you'll know that these filmmakers are masters of suspense.  There are times when you are on the edge of your seat, waiting for the jump scare to happen or the creepy scene everyone knows is coming to finally unfold.  The filmmakers are also masters of light and dark, with shadows moving just outside your periphery and objects in the dark shifting to build up tension or outright scare the audience.  

Unfortunately, this is about all the praise I can give this movie.  Even the excellent filmaking is marred by poor special effects at times that really draw you out of the film.  And it pains me to say it, because the Conjuring is probably my favorite horror movie of all time, but this film just doesn't meaningfully advance the story of this series.  The main characters of Lorraine and Ed are barely featured, with the film focusing almost exclusively on their daughter and a host of teenage newcomers to the story.  They do an admirable job, but they just don't have the pull of the main characters we have grown to love.  

The story itself is all over the place, with a host of new ghosts and haunts introduced with little backstory and not enough of a cameo to really grab the audience.  It seems like each main character has to deal with one main ghost, but it jumps around too much to effectively pull you into the conflict.  And the problem with all these additional ghosts is that very little time is spent on Annabelle.  In this film, she is simply a malevolent spirit that relies on goon ghosts, not a main antagonist that must be conquered.  This movie should have really been called Annabelle and Friends, not Annabelle Comes Home.  Or even, Annabelle, and the other characters you care about, Make Quick Cameos At Home.  I’m guessing that this is the studio attempting to bless a few new characters to then go off and have their own spin off origins movies a la the Nun.

Annabelle Comes Home just feels like a movie that didn't need to be made.  It doesn't meaningfully advance the story of the Conjuring Cinematic Universe, it barely features the main Conjuring characters, and it introduces a host of new ghosts that don't have enough backstory to really grab you.  Annabelle Comes Home to little fanfare and a disappointingly disjointed Conjuring film.

Don't see it.

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