The third instalment of the Annabelle series (after Annabelle and Annabelle: Creation in 2014 and 2017, respectively) entertains the audience just enough to remind them exactly why it belongs in the Conjuring Universe. Annabelle Comes Home is the seventh movie under the horror franchise, and within an hour and 46 minutes, it shows the audience precisely what 'not to do' when confronted with the presence of evil.
The plot begins with the Warrens (played by the incredible Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) acquiring the widely coveted (not really) and grossly malevolent doll Annabelle after a series of hauntings that she (the doll) was responsible for. They take her back to the Warren home, and confine her inside a box for safekeeping. The couple’s involvement in the movie, however, ends here, and as the plot moves forward, Judy—their daughter—becomes the centre of focus. The young girl begins to witness disturbing apparitions, and slowly realises she had inherited her mother’s affinity for sensing the supernatural.
One day, Ed and Lorraine leave Judy in the care of her babysitter Mary Ellen (played by Madison Iseman) as they travel overnight to investigate another case. Soon after, Mary Ellen’s friend Daniela (Katie Sarife) comes over to the Warren house, and ‘accidentally’ unleashes all the evil that had been contained within a room in a bid to communicate with her deceased father. As the day melds into the night, each of the girls— Judy, Mary Ellen and Daniela—experience odd events as the demons come out to play. They come to haunt the girls the way one falls in love—slowly, and then all at once. The activities culminate in a climax as Daniela herself tries to murder the other two.
Mckenna Grace, playing Judy Warren, delivers a riveting performance as Ed and Lorraine Warren’s daughter. Seemingly the smartest among the three and definitely the most experienced, Judy weaves through the never-ending hurdles and directs the small group into safety. The only thought that runs through the spectators’ mind throughout the duration of the movie is that the whole situation could have been avoided if one only remembered the old proverb “curiosity killed the cat” (Looking at you, Daniela).
The movie alternates between jump scares and building up scenes excruciatingly slowly, but manages to achieve what it set out to do—scare the audience out of their wits. The cinematography, as characteristic of the other movies in the franchise, is dark and despondent, mourning the absence of all that is joyful and bright.
Gary Dauberman, previously a screenwriter for the first two movies in the Annabelle series, turned to direction for the third one. Though the movie does fail to deliver the intensity that The Conjuring perfected, it births an acceptable performance. However, it was the music and the realistic portrayal of the characters that tied the whole movie together.
Joseph Bishara, who worked on the scores for three other movies in the Conjuring Universe, has not failed to meet expectations this time around either. The movie would not have been the same if not for the viscerally haunting melodies that he composed, managing to enhance the already distressing experience and keeping the audience’s attention on the screen.
Annabelle (the doll) itself is the most terrifying aspect of the movie, the other apparitions and demons don’t hold a torch to the inherently unsettling feeling that she induces in the audience—her perennial gaze boring through the screen into each living soul. Seems like Annabelle just won’t quit. And there’s an audience who’s willing to let her stay.
Movie: Annabelle Comes Home
Director: Gary Dauberman
Cast: Mckenna Grace, Madison Iseman, Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga