Annabelle Comes Home
The third film in one of the far too numerous Conjuring spinoffs, Annabelle Comes Home raises far more questions than answers — a remarkable accomplishment for such a stupefyingly simple movie.
Chief among the queries is how many films Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson have on their Lorraine and Ed Warren contract — or how lazy the two have become in accepting easy money for minimal effort as the revered paranormal investigators.
Not far behind is how writer/director Gary Dauberman has been able to build a successful horror career, penning the previous half-baked Annabelle installments, the lousy Conjuring universe cousin The Nun, as well as the comparably dull It and its forthcoming sequel.
For his directorial debut, the overarching clear cinematography makes it clear that Dauberman has some laudable filmmaking talents, but consistent with his prior screenplays, the writing merely hints at scares instead of actually delivering them.
And so, one wonders how someone with so many profitable credits to his name could craft a story so overrun with human ineptitude and absent any moments of terror beyond the sudden snapping of a box’s lid.
Perhaps as an ode to the classic “Don’t!” tradition, Dauberman has shockingly dumb super snoop Daniela (TV actress Katie Sarife) seemingly offer herself up as a human sacrifice by entering the Warrens’ very clearly marked room of evil objects while her friend Mary Ellen (Madison Iseman, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle) is busy looking after the Warren’s daughter Judy (Mckenna Grace, Gifted).
As the titular doll escapes and starts causing chaos throughout the property, everyone is bizarrely nonchalant — especially Judy, even when she spots her noted porcelain nemesis multiple times. Her incomprehensible calmness is tied in with an unconvincing subplot of her denying the gift she’s inherited from her mother, resulting in a conflict wholly lacking in credulity on every conceivable level.
Its failure topped off by a big final maelstrom of empty terror that wouldn’t cut it in a Goosebumps sequel, Annabelle Comes Home introduces perhaps its one truly horror-inducing prospect — that of side monsters that seem destined to receive origin story spinoffs of their own.
Viewers looking forward to It: Chapter Two should consider themselves warned.
Grade: D. Rated R. Now playing at AMC Classic, Biltmore Grande, and Carolina Cinemark
(Photo: Warner Bros.)