After the scarily unscary ‘The Curse of La Llorona’ earlier this year The Conjuring Universe is hoping to get back on frightening form with franchise favourite Annabelle. Her latest outing ‘Annabelle Comes Home’ sees her be the first character in this universe to have a trilogy of films as the main antagonist. Screenwriter, Gary Dauberman who penned the first two films, as well as this third one also makes his directorial debut but would this be a welcome return for the terrifying toy?
Narratively there’s not so much going on here. The basic premise of the film sees The Warrens (Patrick Wilson & Vera Farmiga) come into possession of the doll and contain it, and its evil in their family home. However, you’ve guessed it – it doesn’t stay contained for too long. That is the long and the short of it really and it’s this simple setup that makes way for the scares to start. The horror is quite effective here. As is to be expected in this cinematic universe the film has its fair share of jump scares, however these are made all the more terrifying thanks to the numerous sequences of tension preceding them that are drawn out to uncomfortable lengths. In addition to these the film introduces a whole host of new supernatural threats into its story and as a result at times the film almost feels like an Annabelle spin off rather than a film solely about her. Nonetheless, whilst this array of new threats does give the film a somewhat manic feel to it they also make for quite the house of horrors atmosphere, enhancing the fear factor nicely and serving as a further exploration of this cinematic universe.
It’s great to see Wilson and Farmiga reprising their roles as The Warrens here, providing this universe with some solid continuity but if audiences are expecting them to feature heavily they may be disappointed. Their roles fall somewhere inbetween cameo and supporting which is somewhat of a shame. However, despite this the young cast who lead the film are very capable and carry the film with confidence throughout. One pleasant surprise that the film has is the touches of comedy it litters throughout. The young cast excel with this element and at certain moments you’ll find yourself forgetting the horror with the film feeling more of a teen comedy. It’s never jarring either which is good thanks to Dauberman creating a delicate balance, seamlessly weaving the two elements together. This comedy is essential for keeping the pace of the film quick as the limited plot risks it becoming a drag but thankfully the creative horror sequences and this fun injection of comedy make sure that it never does. As a result of this good pacing though the film feels a tad anti-climatic, almost like it’s missing one final sequence of horror to really ensure that you’ve soiled yourself. Unfortunately this never comes though which might leave some fans wanting just a little bit more.
Even with that in mind ‘Annabelle Comes Home’ is most definitely a step back in the right direction for The Conjuring Universe. Its sense of fun somewhat sets it a part from its predecessors and whilst it doesn’t provide anything with that much of a lasting impact for the genre it’s perfectly serviceable in the moment. Conjuring up an entertaining and equally as intense watch Dauberman will be successful in securing some screams and squirms from his audiences. Now where do I sign the petition for an Annabelle vs Chucky crossover?
Written by Hamish Calvert
Star Rating –★★★
Question: What is your favourite film spin-off from The Conjuring?
(Leave your answers in the comments section below!)
Thanks for reading this review and please let us know what you thought about the movie! Leave a comment below or drop us a tweet over at @HCMovieReviews.
Thanks to Movie House Cinemas for screening access