‘Annabelle Comes Home’ is an easy film to get into and an even easier one to recommend. Whilst it might not be the best film to come from the Conjuring Franchise, nor does it perhaps not quite match the surprisingly high standards of the prequel ‘Annabelle Creation’, it is, in my opinion, a perfect example of how to do a sequel right.
By cutting right to the chase, and distilling down what fans enjoyed from the first couple of movies this film is the raw ghost-train experience it needs to be – sure at the expense of originality – but it delivers 90 odd minutes of bump-in the night entertainment, with a couple of stand-out scenes thrown in for good measure.
The plot, whilst you could probably guess for yourself, follows the conduit doll ‘Annabelle’ as the Warren’s collect it from its latest victim and bring it back to the safe room in the basement of their house – stored her glass box which is shown in the original movie. If you remember the explanation, the doll itself isn’t haunted, its utilised by demons to influence around it, and in this instance, with the doll in its special glass box, that evil is contained. Of course, it wasn’t quite as tamper proof as they had hoped and one fateful evening it is released to cause havoc once more by the curious friend of the Warren’s babysitter.
And off we go, thrill-ride engage.
With a copious amount reference material to lean on this film stays well within its element. The film doesn’t really have a story to tell as such and was clearly written around its set pieces. As such the camera isn’t so much filming actors as much as it is taking us, the audience, on a POV tour as we follow the cast through a seriously haunted house. The small but crucial ‘conduit’ plot device means that the film can (and does) introduce a host of new spooky stalkers without compromising the films concept, and, most crucially doesn’t have to be a haunted doll film (which we’ve seen done countless times before).
So, the film throws a few cool new characters into the universe, those supposedly tamed and locked away by the Warren’s previous casework. There’s a haunted bridal gown, a creepy suit of Samurai armour and a set of coins, which might sound lame, but conclude a set of set pieces in a jolt which is guaranteed to write-off any pair of pants not guarded by the most steadfast of sphincters.
And this is what the film does right. Put a group of young girls in a house and let them take it in turns to get terrorised buy an eclectic mix of stalkers. The camera work, sound design and production values all work well to deliver the right mix of atmosphere and jolts. Its modern, and I get that the one trick pony of having a 90 minute film effectively distil into a set of 10 minute jump-scare set pieces does not necessarily a good horror film make, but it’s definitely a ‘style’ and to be honest, by now, there are enough genre examples that you’ve either decided whether its for you or not.
From my perspective, accepted for what it is – a 15 rated jump scare extravaganza I can watch with my wife or friend on a Saturday night; a niche it filled nicely.
Overall, there isn’t a lot more to say critically. The acting is passible, with franchise mainstays Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga appearing in the film just long enough so you can’t call ‘cameo’ on it. Similarly, the story, well let’s just say it doesn’t ruin anything already established; but the scares, were on point. I didn’t really think much to the first film, thought the second film ‘Creation’ was a banger and ‘Comes Home’ sits nicely between them.