Directed by: Gary Dauberman
Written by: Gary Dauberman
Starring: McKenna Grace, Madison Iseman, Katie Sarife, Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga
In a decade constantly supplying thought-provoking horror films from filmmakers like Jordan Peele, Jennifer Kent, Ari Aster, Robert Eggers, and Julia Ducournau, sometimes it’s nice to have an entertaining romp. Nothing serious or really deep, but the third installment of the Annabelle films provides a fun haunted house flick.
The house of famous demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren has a room of items used as conduits for many of the spirits they have exorcised during their careers. One night, the Warrens head out to their next investigation and leave their daughter Judy (McKenna Grace) with her regular babysitter, Mary Ellen (Madison Iseman). Everything should go as normal but Mary Ellen’s friend Daniela (Katie Sarife) drops by unannounced and sneaks into the haunted room. She then goes and touches nearly every item including opening the case containing the infamous Annabelle doll.
The haunted room in the Warren house contains one of the most bountiful storytelling opportunities for a studio to print money. With the success of the two Conjuring films focusing on two of the Warrens’ cases, that room contains a treasure chest of sequel ideas but what they chose to do for this film is amazing. It puts three individuals with little to no experience dueling with demons in a house filled with the worst of them on the loose. While this film doesn’t represent any real feat in the horror genre or tells a compelling story for any of these characters, when it all came together, it turned into an entertaining viewing experience. Part of that comes from the audience that viewed the film with me. They were all having a good time and all of the scares got a large reaction out of all of them. It’s part of why the theater experience remains so vital because it creates a space where strangers can enter a scare fest like this film and just feed off each other’s energy.
There were some decent scares throughout the film’s runtime because it had new demons to introduce. Each one received very little backstory and existed simply to wreak havoc, which they did. The filmmakers did try to thread an emotional arc for Daniela, as what draws her to the room involves hoping to get into contact with her deceased father. It works fine, I guess, but the film doesn’t focus on it enough to have any real resonance. It did provide an excellent scare sequence that involved a television with genuinely thrilling effects. While jump scares were utilized aplenty as with any mainstream horror film, there were other stylistic ones that really got to me, and certainly to the other audience members in the theater.
Not much depth or anything to parse through thematically, this film sought to create a fun and scary experience and it accomplishes that goal. It displays the possible future of this franchise and while others like The Curse of La Llorona deliver garbage, Annabelle Comes Home provides decent entertainment. Nothing that will stick with me but certainly not a bad way to spend 106 minutes.