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John’s Horror Corner: Annabelle Comes Home (2019), an entertaining but middle-of-the-road contribution to The Conjuring Universe.

October 14, 2019

MY CALL: Overall a fun popcorn flick that falls somewhere between Annabelle (for which I didn’t really care) and Annabelle: Creation (which was loads of fun). I have criticisms, but not really any major complaints. My only disappointment rests in direct comparisons to The Conjuring (2013), The Conjuring 2 (2016) and Annabelle: Creation (2017). MORE MOVIES LIKE Annabelle: CreationWell, The Conjuring (2013), Annabelle (2014; podcast discussion of Annabelle), The Conjuring 2 (2016; podcast discussion of The Conjuring 2) and Annabelle: Creation (2017; podcast discussion of Annabelle: Creation) round out the better side of The Conjuring Universe. Honestly, I’d just skip The Nun (2018) and The Curse of La Llorana (2019). For more evil doll movies one may venture Dead Silence (2007), Dolls (1987), Dolly Dearest (1981), Puppet Master 1-5 (1989-1994), The Boy (2016), Child’s Play (1988), Curse of Chucky (2013), Cult of Chucky (2017), Child’s Play (2019) and even Poltergeist (1982; that evil clown was twisted).

The Conjuring Universe SIDEBAR: The Conjuring (2013) was so outstanding that Annabelle (2014) couldn’t be expected to measure up. Worse yet, evil doll movies practically make themselves yet Annabelle was an absolutely incompetent horror film that should disappoint fans of the genre whether they were birthed in the era of serious slashers, classic Hammer releases, or campy 80s slapstick gore-fests. The only way Annabelle made it to the big screen was by riding the tidal wave of hype created by its connection to The Conjuring. Then along came The Conjuring 2 (2016), which was clearly made more for the fans than the critics as it focused more on being excitingly jump-scary than on plotiness. This introduced The Nun (i.e., the demon Valek) and gave a fine nod to Annabelle. Following suit, Annabelle: Creation (2017) offered a mysterious wink harbingering The Nun (2018) and then finished transitioning us directly into the opening scene of Annabelle (2014). There was also The Curse of La Llorana (2019), which only fit in the Wan-iverse by its forced inclusion of Father Perez (Tony Amendola; Annabelle). This sequel begins with Annabelle being recovered and brought safely to the Warrens’ home, as if following the events of Annabelle (2014).

With Ed (Patrick Wilson; The Conjuring 1-3, The Nun, In the Tall Grass) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga; The Conjuring 1-3, The Nun, Orphan) returning as main characters, this feels almost as much like The Conjuring 2.5 than an Annabelle film. And with how randomly tropey the supernatural entities and their actions have become, it measures a bit shy of being worthy of either. But hold on, I’m not saying it’s a bad movie—just not a great franchise installment.

Babysitting for Ed and Lorraine’s daughter Judy (Mckenna Grace; The Bad Seed, Amityville: The Awakening), Mary Ellen (Madison Iseman; Tales of Halloween, Goosebumps 2) and her nosey friend Daniela (Katie Sarife) end up freeing Annabelle’s demon to unleash her evil influence on those unlucky enough to be nearby. At first it’s just a little startling. But eventually we get some good atmosphere and scares.

A wolfen beast attacks from the annoyingly thick and abundant mist, a murderous spectral bride terrifies the household, empty rocking chairs rock on their own, spirits pace out of focus in the background, evil animated shadows, oddly prophetic TVs, and then there’s the Ferryman… that dude is creepy! This Annabelle doll is, of course, also incredibly creepy. Influenced by a demon and serving as a beacon for lost spirits, Annabelle is a magnet of malady. Seeing her under the sheets of the bed (with you in it) was a joyous shock.

First-time director Gary Dauberman (writer; Annabelle: Creation, It, Swamp Thing) seems to have tried to capture the more varied and flavorful threats of The Conjuring 2 (2016). The demon Valek, the Cooked Man; both were well-storied additions to that 2016 sequel. Yet here our varied additions’ introductions held less gravity, and their subsequent sightings less impactful (beyond the excellent jump scares). But make no mistake. I may criticism, but this becomes a rollercoaster of dreadful frights and engaging jumps. It’s just that… remember when the shadowy silhouette of the dog transmuted into the Crooked Man? That will stick with me! Nothing really from this film will… although the blood vomit scene was certainly shocking even if brief.

Overall a fun popcorn flick. I have criticisms, but not really any major complaints. My only disappointment rests in comparisons to The Conjuring (2013), The Conjuring 2 (2016) and Annabelle: Creation (2017).

4 Comments leave one →
  1. malcolm degenaro permalink
    October 15, 2019 1:51 am

    sorry this movies was very disappointing

    • John Leavengood permalink
      October 19, 2019 9:15 am

      I managed to enjoy it more as a standalone. Do you generally like or dislike the Conjuring movies/spinoffs? I’m about 50/50 for like/dislike.

  2. October 20, 2019 9:31 am

    I’m about 50/50 on these movies too. This one I went with my horror movie buddy (my 19 year old daughter) and my wife tagged along, someone not usually into horror movies. My wife and I were both bored to tears but my daughter loved it.

    For me, it was too much of a slow burn. The one scene where the girl prowls around the basement so long was good the way it was drawn out, but the rest being so slow made it seem mopey and was a fail in trying to build the tension. Secondly, there were some startles, but it just wasn’t scary, or even creepy to me. And last of all, while McKenna Grace is an awesome actress, I just didn’t think she fit this part very well. Maybe Jete Laurence or another that fits the suspense/horror role would have been better.


  1. John’s Horror Corner INDEX: a list of all my horror reviews by movie release date | Movies, Films & Flix

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