Movie Review: “Annabelle Comes Home” – Boring

Written by Jeremiah Greville June 30, 2019

We’re going to get more Conjuring universe movies, and that’s starting to make me sad. Three of them have been good so far, and four of them…haven’t. If you’re familiar with the series and have been keeping track, that leaves this film in the ‘not good’ category. Like last year’s The Nun and this year’s The Curse of La Llorona, it’s not awful. But at a certain point relying on old tricks for an experienced audience stops working, and Annabelle Comes Home doesn’t have anything but old tricks up its sleeve. There’s nothing here you haven’t seen before, and when I can say that about a film with a friggin’ ghost werewolf in it, that’s a shame. Wait—you haven’t seen a ghost werewolf before? Pfft, you need to get out more.

Annabelle Comes Home stars Madison Iseman as a teenage babysitter named Mary, who’s hired by famous demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) to look after their daughter, Judy (Mckenna Grace) while they’re away. In the basement of the Warren’s home there exists a room full of haunted and cursed items, including the titular Annabelle doll, the most evil object of the bunch. Their night takes a turn for the terrifying when someone opens the room and unwittingly unleashes Annabelle, causing all manor of spirits and demons to attack the girls. Annabelle Comes Home also stars Michael Cinimo as a sweet love-struck boy Bob, and Katie Sarife as Mary’s best friend Daniella, and also The Worst Person Ever. It’s written and directed by Gary Dauberman.

“The doll, Ed. It’s a beacon for other spirits.”

There are a bunch of problems I can get into with Annabelle Comes Home, but there are three big ones that I’m going to focus on. The first is Katie Sarife’s character, Daniella. Basically…Daniella is awful. The character is terrible. She starts off as the catty, awful, selfish friend, then turns into the selfish, stupid catalyst for everything bad that later transpires in the film. She’s a walking plot device, and it’s astounding to see Dauberman bend over backwards to explain her motivation and decisions after the fact. Horror movies thrive on stupid characters making bad decisions — but wow. She’s reigns supreme in a crowded field. If Dauberman had put her motivations first, the character may have worked. But as she stands now, you’ll want to yell at the screen every time she’s on it. This is not the fault of the actress — this is bad writing.

The first problem with Annabelle Comes Home is a symptom of the second problem: it relies too much on old tricks. Daniella is just the old trope of horror characters making bad decisions cranked up to eleven. The rest of the movie is more of the same. Every single jump scare follows the same structure: the sound dies out, the camera pans around for a fake out, then eventually pans back to reveal something scary and loud. That’s it. That’s all there is. Over and over. But it’s so bad in this film that almost half of the entire movie is spent in silence. Yet there’s no tension — it’s just oppressively boring. The sound dies out every couple of minutes, and then we’re left following terrified characters for overlong set-ups to lukewarm jump-scares. You’ll hear their nervous breathing. You’ll hear other patrons chewing. You’ll wish you were watching something else.

“There’s been an accident.”

The third problem with Annabelle Comes Home is that it’s not really a movie at all. Rather, it’s an advertisement for all of the possible future Conjuring universe spin-offs. I knew there would be a bit of this going in, but I didn’t realize there would be so much of it. Special emphasis is placed on every cursed item in the Warren basement, and you can almost see the “Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You” pop-up under each lingering shot. A series of Chekov’s Guns become multiple Swords of Damocles. These aren’t promises to the audience, they’re threats. And obnoxiously obvious ones at that. I feel bad for future focus groups asked if they’re more excited for a film about the haunted board game, or the evil dress. I came here for an actual movie, not the Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase!

And all of this is made worse for the fact that the basic premise is really sound. When you have a room of haunted evil items introduced in previous films, it would be foolish not to make a movie about it. This should have been the culmination the Conjuring universe story, but instead it just seems small and inconsequential. The most original part of the film is the ghost werewolf I mentioned above, but there’s barely any of it at all. Once you see it, you wonder why the hell the rest of the movie wasn’t about it, and it alone. And oh God, here I am now dreading a future Ghost Werewolf: A Conjuring Story film. The rest of the ghosts, or entities, are either one-note gimmicks or barely explained at all. Annabelle Comes Home is a series of poorly made teaser trailers for films I hope never get made.

“You saw the werewolf?”

If you want to see something good instead, check out either of the first two Conjuring films, or Annabelle: Creation. They’re all worth the watch. The best part of this film, unfortunately, is Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga. They bring warmth and depth to every minute of their screen-time, but aren’t in the movie long enough to make an impact. The rest of the film is just boring characters screaming and running, and enough fog to make John Carpenter jealous. Seriously—what’s with all of the fog? It’s nuts. When the action finally starts, the film gets shaky and unwatchable, only to lead to a climax that feels deflated and cheap. When one of ‘terrifying’ gags in your horror film is a ghost actually hiding a TV remote, you know you’re scraping the bottom of the barrel.

Annabelle Comes Home should have been a triumphant crossover between the Annabelle series and its close relative, the Conjuring series, but it’s not. It’s a wasted opportunity that squanders an interesting premise on horrible, bland characters and poorly done horror tropes. The movie is full of jump scares for those who like them, but is otherwise entirely inconsequential to the rest of the Conjuring universe. There’s no lasting impact, and little reason to stick around. The ghost werewolf is one thing. But one thing isn’t enough to save a film this dull and lifeless. La Llorona was better. The Nun was better…slightly. At least this one is still beats the first Annabelle film. If you’re a fan of the series and not too picky, you might have a decent time. For everyone else, this may be one haunted room you just don’t want to enter.

My Rating. 5.5/10

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About Jeremiah Greville

Jeremiah Greville is a pretty rad beard that's attached itself to a human face. The beard likes movies, television, comic books, and gentle finger rubs. The human likes pizza and sleep. When they work together, they write reviews. Hope you enjoy them!

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