She’s at it again. Annabelle, everyone’s favorite haunted doll is back for a third time in Annabelle Comes Home, the next—and likely not final—installment in this successful Conjuring Universe spin-off series.
To give a little back story, after writing 2014’s Annabelle, 2017’s Annabelle: Creation, and yet another Conjuring spin-off, 2018’s The Nun, Gary Dauberman makes his directorial debut with Annabelle Comes Home. Of course, he wrote it, too. Once again featuring Vera Farmiga (The Departed 2006, Bates Motel series) and Patrick Wilson (Watchmen 2009, Insidious 2010) as the famed real-world demonologists Lorraine and Ed Warren, Annabelle Comes Home brings The Conjuring series back to its roots, taking place almost entirely in the Warren’s home/den of cursed objects. Find out what sinister tricks Annabelle gets up to when she returns to theaters worldwide on Wednesday, June 26th via New Line Cinema.
Taking place shortly before the events of 2013’s The Conjuring, Annabelle Comes Home begins with a little refresher on the events that brought this horrific and inexplicably massive doll into the hands of the Warrens following the events of the first two Annabelle films. After a harrowing experience on the road while driving Annabelle to her new residence, Lorraine realizes that Annabelle is a homing beacon for other spirits, so what better place to put her than in a small room filled with other demonic objects?
For awhile, Annabelle remains locked away in her case of chapel glass, but she is not content to simply sit in her chair and be deemed the most malevolent of all the Warren’s occult objects. While the Warrens are away for a single evening, they leave their 10-year-old daughter Judy (Mckenna Grace: Gifted 2017, The Haunting of Hill House series) in the hands of the blonde, beatific babysitter Mary Ellen (Madison Iseman: Jumanji 2017, Still The King 2017). A blonde teen could never do anything wrong, so in comes the dark-haired Daniela (Katie Sarife: Supernatural series, Youth & Consequences mini-series), a friend of Mary Ellen’s who has developed an interest in the Warren’s growing fame and sneaks her way into the Warren’s rightfully locked room and proceeds to touch every haunted object, including Annabelle. Surprising no one, Annabelle breaks free and wreaks havoc around the home by amplifying all those evil spirits.
Unlike the first Annabelle film, Annabelle Comes Home has characters you actually care about. McKenna Grace is great as Judy, who struggles with being outcast from her peers. Though you may find yourself screaming “WHY?!” at the screen as Daniela touches every clearly cursed item, she does get a touching backstory that explains some of her questionable decisions.
You only see the titular character a handful of times, which is perhaps a smart move on behalf of the writers. After two films and then some, the audience is already familiar with Annabelle’s love of door slamming and chair rocking, so a show of some of the other cases the Warrens have investigated keeps things interesting. On the other hand, all of these entities, including a wedding dress, samurai armor, a television that shows the future, the soul-stealing Ferry Man, and even a werewolf, make the film feel a bit too cluttered. It is a bit like throwing cursed items at the wall and seeing what kills you or grasping at straws to find the next Conjuring spin-off.
Even so, Annabelle Comes Home is jam-packed with jump scares and tense moments backed by Joseph Bishara’s eerie score. By now, Dauberban and Producers James Wan and Peter Safran know what their audiences are expecting and are more than willing to hand it over. If you are a fan of The Conjuring at all, Annabelle Comes Home just might be the most enticing of the spin-offs so far just for the sheer amount of stuff crammed into the film’s 106 minutes. That in mind, if somehow you have managed to skip every other Conjuring film, the film provides just enough backstory so that you can jump right in to all the action. For a Horror spin-off, Annabelle Comes Home checks all the boxes and is an enjoyable ride from start to finish. For these reasons, CrypticRock gives it 4 out of 5 stars.