“Do your parents keep any creepy stuff around?” asks Daniela (Katie Sarife). “They keep it all locked away in a room so we’re safe,” answers Judy Warren (Mckenna Grace) to her babysitter’s friend who has more than a mild interest in the supernatural in the third film in the Annabelle spinoff series, Annabelle Comes Home.
Ed and Lorraine Warren (The Conjuring original stars Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) return home after helping college students who had in their possession a child’s doll named Annabelle, which the Warrens believe has the power to draw evil spirits and demons. Determined to make sure the doll doesn’t endanger anyone else, they lock it in the room designated for objects that are either haunted, cursed, or have been used in ritualistic practices.
Placed behind special enhanced glass and blessed by a priest, the Warrens have contained the evil in Annabelle.
When the Warrens are called out at night on a case, they leave their daughter, Judy, with her friend and trusted babysitter, Mary (Madison Iseman). While Mary and Judy are planning to celebrate Judy’s birthday early, Mary’s best friend Daniela arrives uninvited. She’s there partly to help celebrate but mostly to see what haunted artifacts the Warrens keep in their home.
When Daniela discovers the room full of cursed objects, she sneaks in and touches almost every item in the collection. As if that wasn’t enough of an invitation to supernatural activity, she opens the glass case that holds Annabelle. In doing so Daniela has unknowingly released the evil spirits connected with the items in the room, freeing them to target Judy, Mary, and Daniela.
Not in the same league as The Conjuring or its sequel The Conjuring 2, Annabelle Comes Home is, however, a creepy, goosebumps-inducing jump fest that’s the best of the Annabelle films. It turns the Warrens’ home into a spooky haunted house where shadows, bumps in the night, and mist are sinister and even deadly.
The three young main actresses give above average performances in the film. Strongest is Mckenna Grace (Designated Survivor) as young Judy who’s starting to realize she has her mother’s gift and has the most common sense of the three young girls. Grace portrays Judy as a likeable and at times melancholy child who just wants to have friends and be a kid despite growing up in such a unique house.
Madison Iseman is solid as Mary, the classic, trustworthy, “good girl,” dependable babysitter who genuinely likes Judy and tries to look out for her like a big sister would. She’s reminiscent of the character Laurie Strode in the first Halloween film. Katie Sarife is effective as Daniela, Mary’s best friend who has become focused on the Warrens and the supernatural for deeply personal reasons.
Director Gary Dauberman tries to emulate James Wan’s style with the use of shadows, lighting, and sounds to create an eerie and scary haunted house the three young girls must struggle to survive in. However, Dauberman does resort to more traditional jump scares than Wan’s style of building true tension and suspense.
The Conjuring kicked the franchise off, setting the bar impossibly high for spinoffs and origin stories. Still, Annabelle Comes Home is effective and creepy. It’s a simple, scary, and fun haunted house film.
Release Date: June 26, 2019
MPAA Rating: R for horror violence and terror
Running Time: 100 minutes