Annabelle Comes Home – Film Review
by Letizia Delmastro
Director: Gary Dauberman
Writers: James Wan (story by), Gary Dauberman (screenplay by)
Stars: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Mckenna Grace
The newest entry to the Annabelle saga, ‘Annabelle Comes Home’ has all the potential to put a twist to the usual horror format, but fails to bring all the strands together to deliver a satisfying yarn of things that go bump in the night!
Being the third release in the series, we are by now used to Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga’s portrayal of Ed and Lorraine Warren, the demonologists that acquired Annabelle: pity that they end up being relegated to little more than cameos. They appear in a 10-minute prologue (in which they are shown acquiring the doll and bringing it home), only to disappear for the duration of the movie, and reappear again for a disappointing 2-minute epilogue!
The rest of the cast fail to impress: Mckenna Grace, who plays the Warrens’ 11-year-old daughter Judy, almost only wavers between mute sadness and frantic prayer; Madison Iseman, playing Mary Ellen, Judy’s babysitter, excels at screaming and tearing up in fear, but very little else. Her performance is flat and, most unfortunately, boring: her lines feel as if delivered by a robot, and no emotional depth comes across to the spectator. Her friend Daniela (Katie Sarife) is also introduced with what feels like an unclear attempt to make her the main character. She is the one freeing Annabelle from her cage, and she is on a personal, emotional quest: this is explored with some bland dialogue to give background and some hard to believe mood swings from the character, who jumps from clichéd role of “edgy teenage girl” to “distraught daughter” in a matter of seconds.
The fourth character, Mary Ellen’s would-be love interest, seems to have been introduced as an attempt to give some comic relief, and is only brought back once during the movie and at the end, making it feel like an unnecessary hole-filler, a failed try to give Mary Ellen’s character more depth.
In its entirety, the movie did not feel scary. A few jump-scares work (how could those fail), but the very, very long wind-ups to crucial moments and sudden changes in the characters’ emotions and behaviours created an unfortunately jarring and sometimes boring effect.
The characters were explored and only for what served the plot: Daniela’s struggle with self-blame and Judy’s struggle with being bullied could have helped transfer the movie onto a deeper psychological level, but these were brushed off once exploited.
Annabelle Comes Home turned out to be a disappointing movie, with a mix and match of demons thrown at the audience and a weak plot line. At least some of the jump-scares landed, if nothing else in this predictable entry in the ever extending Conjuring universe.