The seventh addition to the Conjuring franchise is a middling, campy, and minimalistic entry. The Conjuring universe has had horror films of almost every quality, and Annabelle Comes Home is a good example of the franchise’s current state. It’s losing originality and has committed itself to rely on its own formulas. One might as well call it the Marvel Cinematic Universe of horror franchises, only that most of the MCU films at least find some nuance. This franchise, on the other end, is not only visually repetitive, but even the horror techniques and aspects of suspense are pretty much the same in every film.
Horror screenwriter Gary Dauberman’s directorial debut and first entry to the Conjuring universe buys into one of the biggest horror tropes of all time, “Curiosity killed the cat”. And if a horror film possesses such an outdated trope as its premise, even the best possible direction, screenwriting, and sequences won’t be able to prevent its distance from greatness. Though in Annabelle Comes Home’s case, all of these aspects are themselves quite mediocre.
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The Movie Review
Unlike other recent entries to the Conjuring universe franchise like The Curse of La Llorona and Annabelle: Creation, Annabelle Comes Home surrounds the franchise’s original protagonists, the demonologists Laura and Ed Warren (played respectively by Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson). But this time around, the story focuses on their daughter Judy (played by McKenna Grace), who can also see and communicate with spirits, her babysitter Mary Ellen (played by Madison Iseman), and the babysitter’s curious friend Daniela (Katie Sarife).
The narrative starts by setting its limits very shortly. The doll Annabelle summons spirits to attack the couple while they travel back, which leads to them locking it behind a sacred glass that has the protection of Father Gordon.
The couple goes out to investigate another case and doesn’t come back till the very end of the movie, which shifts the POV entirely to Judy and company. Judy has already been having odd experiences with spirits, whereas Daniela, who’s recently suffered the loss of a loved one, is enthused by the idea of communicating with the dead.
So with one kid and two teenagers in a house full of locked spirits and all the possibly scary things, what could possibly go wrong?
Daniela does have an understandably heartfelt backstory, especially with the revelations that come forth later on, but she herself serves mainly as the embodiment of curiosity killing the cat.
Not only is it one of the oldest tropes of horror and non-horror flicks alike, but it’s also becoming more and more outdated as a theme the more it repeats because curiosity certainly hasn’t killed as many real cats as it has killed fictional ones.
The curiosity of Daniela is terrible enough to mess with about everything in the forbidden room, including the Annabelle doll. And regardless of Daniela being the one Annabelle Comes Home frames as the culprit, she’s actually a very interesting character, and as are Judy and Mary Allen despite the film relying a little too much on sequences and spectacle.
So even though the film may not have the best screenwriting, direction, cinematography, and suspense, at least you get to root for the characters.
This middling film is pretty much a consensus of the entire franchise. It’s like a compilation of horror bits of almost every film in the franchise, with the issue being its lack of originality. Be it the falling of lightweight objects causing the loudest of noises or the inclinations that make every scare predictable, Annabelle Comes Home features them all.
Michael Burgess’ cinematography is hit and miss, the music by Joseph Bishara is nothing out of ordinary for a horror film, the screenplay, which was written by director Gary Dauberman himself, is quite mediocre but achieves having interesting characters, and the direction barely brings upon anything fresh.
Annabelle Comes Home is a film that one won’t necessarily recommend to anyone, but won’t recommend horror enthusiasts against watching. It may be a simulation of all things the franchise has manifested so far, but it features characters good enough to root for, even though their predicaments are low-key hilarious.