Annabelle Comes Home follows the evil doll that acts as a conduit for spirits and demons as it is initially introduced into the home of the paranormal investigative family, the Warrens. After being released from its blessed imprisonment by a well-meaning teen, the beacon of evil begins to release spirits once trapped in their respective totems.
Annabelle Comes Home Review
The Annabelle [now] trilogy has had its ups and downs, much like the Insidious franchise. While the first Insidious film and the two Conjuring movies remain the pinnacle of the Wan universe of horror, there have been some valiant attempts to keep the Wan style of horror going. While there have been mild successes, like Insidious 3 and Annabelle Creation, there have been slight failures, like The Nun and the original Annabelle spin-off.
As I've discussed before, the Wan universe appears to be struggling to retain the mystique, atmosphere and unique camera work that made the scares of the first phase of films so effective. I still have a great appreciation for the treatment of peripheral threats, seamless camera shots, tight zooms, nuanced and blatant foreshadowing, and character backstory of the various antagonistic entities through visuals and brief exposition. It all makes for a fun time in horror as the tight rope of visceral imagery and leaving things to the imagination is constantly balanced upon.
Annabelle Comes Home is no different, continuing the trend of effective horror where The Nun and Annabelle fell short (comparatively). But perhaps there is an underlying issue. The films are becoming increasingly predictable, like the MCU's origin story films. We know what's coming. Is the product good enough to compensate for the predictability? It's a tough question to answer. Like Marvel outperforming DC, it's easy to keep rooting for more Wan-style movies when the alternative mainstream horror is far weaker and even more predictable and bland.
In the end I think I'm quicker to continue supporting these films because at the very least, there are effective scare tactic movies that give some fun moments for horror fans and casual movie patrons alike.
I think the child actress of McKenna Grace (the Warren's daughter, Judy) does more than hold her own. On more than one occasion she showed better subtle expression than her older peers and her fearful moments translated well. The script doesn't bring much fresh dialogue or concepts, as through three films we've become quite accustomed to Annabelle's abilities and the characters' reactions to them. The standard moments of levity are few and far between in this entry, with only a brief appearance from the pizza boy ever giving a break to the audience's tension.
We do get some very entertaining new Annabelle "henchmen", as we are given some more elaborate scares and minute backstory on some troubled samurai armor, a haunted television, the Ferryman, and of course a disturbed woman in a dress. The highlight is definitely the Ferryman's moments, giving us a glimpse into a character much like the scene-stealing Crooked Man from The Conjuring 2 that, in my opinion, deserved its own movie before the Nun.
Annabelle Comes Home wasn't anything special in the context of the Wan universe, but it still manages to retain some of the magic of the franchise better than the lower bar set by other films in the series. By this time, you should know what you're getting into with these films, so, go in knowing that it was standard for the Wan universe, nothing new but certainly not poor.
Horror Rating System
Horror Qualifier: 9/10
Horror Quality: 8/10 Film Quality: 6/10