Thu, 25 Jul 2019
Annabelle Comes Home (15)
Running time 1hr 46mins
IF there’s one thing to be said for the Conjuring series, it’s that these are unfailingly glossy pictures, brimming with rich period detail. Annabelle Comes Home – the third entry in the phenomenally popular Annabelle sub-franchise – does not stray from form, conjuring up (tee-hee) a mom’s-apple-pie vision of ’70s America that’s painstakingly thorough and delightfully retro. If only the film had paid the same attention to its plot, characters and atmosphere, it might have made for a decent horror flick. Alas, it’s about as contrived as your run-of-the-mill Conjuring spin-off, vapid box office bait wrapped up in (and ultimately held together by) an elegant bow. There’s a grave sense of inevitability about the fact thatit will almost certainly go down a hit.
The return of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren (played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) has been hyped by the trailers, but Annabelle Comes Home actually focuses upon their daughter, Judy (Mckenna Grace). In a particularly uninspired turn of events, evil doll Annabelle has been confined to a ‘room that stays locked’ in the Warren house; it’s not long, then, before Judy’s curious friends decide to enter, unleashing evil forces upon the world for another round of ghoulish hijinks. Guess how this all ends?
In its endeavours to creep the bejesus out of audiences, Annabelle Goes Home employs the cinematic equivalent of human wave tactics, scarcely missing an opportunity for a jump scare. Of course, this crass, lazy approach actually does much to desensitise viewers, blunting the movie’s potential impact. Looking back over the best evil-toy films of prior decades (Child’s Play, Magic), it’s not hard to see what they did right; they were content to torment viewers from the shadows, allowing the (inherently spooky) premise to work itself out without exposition or an abundance of lousy boom-boom-thump moments. Annabelle Comes Home doesn’t do this, nor CAN it – as part of the Conjuring universe, it’s consciously feeding into a much larger mythos, with the doll’s supernatural character already an established ‘fact’. Annabelle is a malevolent entity, but far too blatant and predictable to be scary. Like 2018’s (truly dreadful) The Nun, this film doubles down on the franchise’s spiritual and religious themes (hitherto something that was kept pleasantly in the background, in the best Anglican tradition). This only
makes it an even more alienating and incomprehensible watch for nonbelieving audiences. Not aterrible movie so much as a very missable one.