Annabelle Comes Home on the surface seems like your typical average horror film ripped right out of the conjuring universe. However, if you took a closer look at different elements of James Wan and Gary Dauberman’s narrative, there are moments in the film which were equally both entertaining and scary as hell. I hardly believe Wan and Dauberman were losing sleep over whether this film would achieve critical acclaim.
Annabelle Comes Home strikes me as a release crafted for fans of the genre like Sam. Who is Sam? Sam was a cinephile who lived in Texas that I had the pleasure of talking shop with on numerous occasions over instant messenger. He loved horror films. Every time I would bemoan a particular release, he’d remind me about how much fun that looked. Sometimes critics lose sight of what matters most of all.
We might not enjoy a particular film, but that doesn’t mean someone didn’t experience some joy watching it. Hell, I’m sure someone loved Gigli when it was released in 2003. Annabelle Comes Home provides a delectable cornucopia of horror filled tropes mixed with heightened moments of terror, creating an entertaining experience for fans of the genre.
The story is pretty straight forward. Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Willson and Vera Farmiga) have to go out of town for the weekend leave their daughter Judy (Mckenna Grace) with their babysitter Mary Ellen (Madison Iseman). What Mary Ellen doesn’t realize is the Warren’s basement is a museum of horrors. When she sees this, she does the sensible act of avoiding it all costs. Of course, this is shortlived due to the actions of her friend Daniela (Katie Sarife).
Daniela had it in her head that if she ventures into the forbidden basement, she’ll be able to connect with her dead father (who died in a car wreck she was involved in). Instead of contacting him, she manages to release the worse item in the Warren’s collection, Annabelle. It’s at this point that all hell breaks loose and fans of the genre will begin to get what they came for. I imagine Sam’s favorite sequence would have involved “The Ferryman” as it got the most “pop” during the screening.
Annabelle Comes Home does have a slight Night At The Museum vibe (if everything in the building had some tie to the far reaches of hell). Dauberman maintains a brisk pace throughout the film (which is a good thing) and keeps the focus on these three young ladies and of course the demonic hellscape Annabelle is unleashing on them. The film is effective at sprinkling in humor during just the right moments. Mary Ellen’s has a suitor named Bob (Michael Cimino) who does bring the right amount levity to the film. Overall, there are enough elements in the movie to satisfy even the biggest of skeptics and the biggest of fans (like Sam).
What’s funny is that I know Sam would have read my rating for this one and questioned it in the nicest way possible. I’m guessing he would have probably gone four stars on this one. He embodied everything that I enjoy about writing these reviews. Discourse is what drives most film critics. I imagine he’s getting ready to sit for a double feature screening of Black Friday and Some Like It Hot. I’m sure he’ll turn toward Roger Ebert as he’s leaving the screening and question him about the nuances of each picture. Sam would have loved Annabelle Comes Home. Who the hell are we kidding, most releases brought him some joy. That joy was extinguished much too soon. Thanks for always keeping me in check, Sam.