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Annabelle Comes Home (2019) Movie Review

Updated on September 12, 2019
Noel Penaflor7 profile image

I've been a movie enthusiast my whole life and been writing movie reviews for over 13 years.

 
 
MPAA Rating
R
Running Time
106 minutes
Director
Gary Dauberman
Writer
Gary Dauberman

At the very least, those of you with a toy or doll fetish should have fun this and last weekend at the movies. I can only imagine what it’s like for you seeing Chucky, Buzz, Woody, Choco, Plantain (I don’t know any Toy Story characters beside Buzz and Woody), and of course Carlton.

This week there’s Annabelle. More specifically Annabelle Comes Home. Not home, but to a theater near you. And judging how bad Annabelle 3 is, it won’t be in theaters for long.

2 out of 3 isn’t bad. You’ll always have Chucky and Murdoch.

As you know, Annabelle 3 is the latest addition to the oddly titled ConjurVerse. With the exception of the actual Conjuring movies, the CVU is hit-and-miss at best. Mostly miss.

Clearly, these movies have been making enough money to warrant sequels, but can you think of anybody, yourself included, that looks forward to any of these ConjurVerse movies other than to react with a shrug and think “Oh, another one of those is coming out…”?

No, you don’t count, James Wan.

Let’s recap for the 4 of you that actually care…

Annabelle (2014)- I barely remember this film because it’s barely worth remembering. Whatever great setup Annabelle the doll got in the first 4 minutes of The Conjuring is undone with this tepid first movie. Alfre Woodard must have really needed a job to take the role of the Sacrificial Black Person who dies to save the white lead actors. This was so mediocre I didn’t think or hope or care if a sequel was possible.

Annabelle Creation (2017)- So perhaps a prequel was in order. I was surprised at how much I liked this sequel, um, prequel, um, second movie. Setting it in the outback took us as far as you could get from the first Annabelle. There are some genuinely scary sequences along with that creepy nun (who also got an unexceptional movie).

After seeing the return of Ed and Lorraine Warren and a reasonably unsettling trailer, I was mostly looking forward to seeing Annabelle Comes Home.

I hadn’t been watching Annabelle 3 for very long when I realized that this latest iteration of Annabelle wasn’t going to be very good. Most of the audience I was with seemed to realize it too.

1 out of 3 good Annabelle movies isn’t bad.

Wait. Yes, it is.

She's got a wicked left cross.
She's got a wicked left cross.

Synopsis

Annabelle Comes Home opens sometime in the 70s. World famous/notorious spirit busters Lorraine (Vera Farmiga, last seen yelling a lot in Godzilla King of the Monsters) and Ed (Patrick Wilson, last seen yelling a lot in Aquaman) have taken custody of the Annabelle doll and are taking it back to the cabinet of curiosities in their basement.

They’re driving home with Annabelle in the backseat. It’s kind of disheartening in retrospect to know that this image may be the scariest part of the movie.

Ed and Lorraine are forced to take a detour because of a fatal car accident.

Ed misses a turnout and their car begins having engine trouble. They stop to see what’s wrong with the car, as if we don’t already know.

They’re stopped right in front of a cemetery. Convenient.

For a seer like Lorraine, she knows what a doll like Annabelle can do (“She’s a beacon for other spirits”). Annabelle has so many wonderful sights to show her.

It’s a good thing Annabelle is going to the Warren basement with many levels of protection. Only in a bad horror movie can Annabelle get out considering how many precautions the Warrens have taken.

*face palm*

Stabby.
Stabby.

It’s the next morning and Annabelle is safely locked up with little or no chance she’s getting out.

It’s almost Ed and Lorraine’s daughter Judy Jetson (Mckenna Grace), um, Warren’s birthday. She’s handing out invitations but all she’s getting are hard passes. No one likes the weird girl with the weird parents. We find out that Judy, like her mom, can also see dead people. They walk around like regular people. At the Catholic school Judy attends, we realize that Judy can see the spirit of a priest that recently died.

A Catholic priest hanging around young people? Nothing bad ever happened from that.

Before Judy’s birthday Ed and Lorraine have to go on a hunting trip. Sorry, that was Supernatural. They have to go away for the weekend to do something for the church. Considering what they do it really is a hunting trip.

Judy is left alone with her very responsible babysitter Mary Ellen (Madison Iseman). Because Mary Ellen genuinely cares for Judy and feels bad that she’s being picked on, Mary Ellen decides to pick up some things to prepare for Judy’s birthday. This should be a fun but relatively quiet weekend.

Unless a character from a bad horror movie shows up.

Mary Ellen’s best friend Daniela (Katie Sarife) decides to tag along. She’s pressing pretty hard to get inside the Warren house, almost like she has an agenda.

Once Daniela gets into the house it doesn’t get any better. The situation nor the movie.

Somehow, she gets the keys to the basement (don’t ask). She begins tinkering with the various evil objects and almost casually ignores the “Do Not Touch” signs littered all over the place.

Daniela rolls up to the glass case where Annabelle is enclosed. Despite a giant “Absolutely Do Not Open for Any Reason” sign on the door, Daniela opens it. There’s movement from Annabelle. Daniela thinks nothing of it because her character is stupid.

The evil is not contained.

What Works With Annabelle Comes Home

  • I feel bad for Mckenna Grace, the very young actress that plays Judy. You realize early on she has to do the heavy lifting for most of the movie and she’s never less than convincing. The script doesn’t do her any favors. The movie doesn’t do her any favors. When she’s older she can chalk it up to being in a bad horror movie when she was a child.

What Doesn't Work With Annabelle Comes Home

  • (minor spoiler) There’s a reason it’s an Annabelle movie instead of a Conjuring one as the Warrens are barely onscreen and the viewer suffers for it. If you based their importance to the film on the trailer, you’d be wrong. If you thought this movie would be good, you’d be wrong again.
  • The first act by writer/director Gary Dauberman feels like a mediocre episode of Riverdale. You wish they would just let the doll out already and then things would get better. You’d be wrong.
  • The final two acts by writer/director Gary Dauberman make you wish you watched Child’s Play again. You get exactly what you’d expect from a ConjurVerse movie- drawn…out…scares, fake-outs and double fake-outs, to shots of mediocre CGI beings and Foley scares to cover up what a miserable experience you’re having. Any episode of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is scarier than what you’re watching.
  • I feel bad for young actress Katie Sarife. Her Daniela is one of the worst written movie characters of 2019. Yes, there’s a motivation to what she does, but it’s weak and forced at best. Daniela’s purpose in the movie is to eff something up every time she’s onscreen. More than once I heard people in the audience call her an idiot and that she deserves to die. I couldn’t disagree. When she’s older Katie can just chalk it up to being in a bad horror movie when she was a teenager.

Maybe you shouldn't let the doll drive...
Maybe you shouldn't let the doll drive...

Overall

After the below average returns of The Nun, last April’s tepid The Curse of La Llorona, and this third strike, maybe the ConjurVerse should be exorcised. Annabelle may have come home, but she wears out her welcome quickly. This time you should stay home.

2 stars for Annabelle Comes Home

Which Annabelle Movie is the Least Bad?

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This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2019 Noel Penaflor

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