Movie #224 2020: Annabelle Comes Home (2019)

Nope, we’re not done yet. The third and final (for now) Annabelle movie is here. I’ve got a little off-piste actually, as The Curse of La Llorona technically came out a few months before this, but I have it on good authority that watching them either way round is fine.

Annabelle Comes Home is the latest release with the Conjuring universe, in which we revisit our favourite creepy doll. To ensure that it fully ties in with the rest of the movies, we take a visit to the house of the Warrens, and take a look at what happens when they leave their daughter at home with a baby sitter for a few days. As you’d expect, certain characters ignore the ‘do not enter’ signs on the door of their conduit museum, and it all hits the fan. There’s hauntings, jump scares, violence… everything we’ve come to look for in a good entry into this echelon.

What Annabelle Comes Home really gets right is the idea for this one to focus on Judy Warren. Any movie that includes the family of the Warrens is instantly more interesting in this franchise. Albeit her parents only making a short appearance, Judy is a character we’ve met before and therefore there’s much less back story required. By focusing on her, we instantly feel invested, and it really draws an audience in from the start, especially if you’ve seen the rest of the films in this franchise.

Instantly noticeable, there’s a slight recasting decision here. I say ‘slight’ but that undermines it – the character of Judy undergoes a significant overhaul, as McKenna Grace steps in to fill her shoes. Grace is an excellent young actor, and they really needed someone as good as her to pull this off, so the decision to do this is without doubt the right thing to do. Already an established actress, Grace even manages to outshine her older industry compatriots, easily standing out as the best main character in the movie.

Something interesting happened with this one for me in regards to plot. Clearly you’re not supposed to side with Annabelle – she’s a murderous psychopath after all – but the best friend in this film is such an idiot that I was praying for the doll to fuck her up the entire way through. It’s what she deserved. What a stupid tosspot. This is not a negative though; half of the fun in horror movies is abhorring the majority of decisions the characters make. (Don’t worry Sydney Prescott, I’m not including your legendary status in that statement.)

Quite differently to some of the other Conjuring films, this one uses many spirits rather than just the one doll; that alone made it instantly better than the first Annabelle movie as there comes more terror in figures that actually move, as opposed to Annabelle who rarely turns her ugly wooden head. One must admit though, it all seemed a little anti-climactic and ended very suddenly. This movie just doesn’t quite have the gusto of the conclusions that the original two Conjuring films had.

Annabelle Comes Home is not a bad horror movie, but very average as a whole. There’s nothing new here, and what you expect is definitely what comes to fruition. But the style and substance of McKenna Grace’s performance along with the decent cinematography makes this an okay watch.

Annabelle Comes Home is available to stream on Sky Cinema and Now TV in the UK.

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