By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs
Just when it seemed the Annabelle/Conjuring franchise was beginning to feel a bit old-hat, Gary Dauberman
—making his directorial debut—pulls some new tricks out of his bag to give the third entry, “Annabelle Comes Home,
a welcome dose of chills and thrills.
Although “Annabelle Comes Home” isn’t as scary as I hoped, Dauberman, who’s written the previous “Annabelle” movies and 2017’s “It” remake, did have me on edge a few times with this one.
That’s part of the reason why my “Annabelle” doll—a gift from Warner Bros.-- remains in her box and locked in the garage.
In “Annabelle Comes Home,” the married demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson, “Aquaman” and Vera Farmiga, “Godzilla: King of the Monsters”) decide to take Annabelle to their house. It’s a foggy night.
Within minutes some strange things start happing as they’re driving with the doll in the back seat. First, their car suddenly breaks down in front of a cemetery. Then Lorraine starts seeing images of zombies all around her. Maybe she’s just tired. No. Maybe it’s Annabelle letting them know the worst is yet to come.
They’ll surely need a priest to bless Annabelle and help ward off any evil spirits lurking around her. Once they do that, they lock up Annabelle in a glass case for good. Or so they think.
Annabelle’s not the only haunted item that the Warrens have in that basement. There’s a reason for the “Do Not Enter” and “Do Not Open” signs posted on the front door and the cabinet where she’s being kept.
When Ed and Lorraine go away for a weekend business trip, their daughter Judy (an excellent McKenna Grace, “Captain Marvel” and “Gifted”) is pretty happy because she can spend time with her favorite babysitter, the super nice Mary Ellen (Madison Iseman, “Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle”).
Mary Ellen’s best friend, Daniela (Katie Sarife, TV’s “Youth & Consequences”) has a rambunctious streak about her. She’s not nearly as soft-spoken as Mary Ellen. She also knows just what to say to that cute grocery store clerk named Bob (Michael Cimino, TV’s “Training Day”) so he’ll notice Mary Ellen since she’s way too shy.
Daniela comes over Mary Ellen’s house and is fascinated by the Warrens and especially that room with all the scary stuff inside it. Plus, she has her own reasons for maybe wanting to reach out and talk with some spirits.
When Mary Ellen takes Judy outside to test some skates she got for her birthday, Daniela’s curiosity gets the best of her. Despite being told to stay away from the room, she goes in anyway. Even worse, she opens the case and takes out Annabelle.
Bad, bad move.
The suspense in “Annabelle Comes Home” builds slowly and the few jump scares the movie has are still rather effective. Remember how haunting the Luniz’s song “I Got Five on It” was in Jordan Peele’s horror movie “Us?” Well, in “Annabelle Comes Home,” the filmmakers lure us in with Badfinger’s hit classic, “Day After Day.”
Soon, all hell breaks loose and the kids in the house and even a pizza deliveryman can’t escape from Annabelle’s fury. This doll doesn’t play.
I'm curious now that the real-life Lorraine Warren recently died (April 18, 2019) and her husband passed in 2006, if the franchise will continue since both served as consultants on the various films. The Warrens also founded the New England Society for Psychic Research in 1952, which apparently is one of the most respected and oldest ghost hunting organizations around.
True story. I met and interviewed Lorraine Warren in 2005 at the press junket for the “Amityville Horror” movie remake in Beverly Hills.
I was sitting at a table with a handful of my colleagues/movie critics. The tiny and frail Warren, walked midway into the interview room and suddenly stopped. She put both hands on her head and said, “Wait, please. “I’m feeling something taking over this room.” She then looked at each of us with her striking blue eyes and it freaked us out. In fact, we almost said in unison, “OK. You can leave now.”
Chances are that could have all been an act, but then again, maybe not. Warren, has performed exorcisms all over the world and seen plenty of haunted, bone-chilling spooky things.
In fact, I asked her about her work over the years. She said she and her husband Ed have volumes of notes, transcripts, recordings and enough information to write numerous books and make movies for many years if they wanted and especially if people were interested.
So far, “The Conjuring” and “Annabelle” movies have been big box office hits. “Annabelle Comes Home” seems poised to continue that scary and winning streak.
Be sure to catch my N2Entertainment.net movie talk segment on the Kitty O'Neal Show Fridays now at 6:20 p.m. on radio station KFBK 1530 AM and 93.1 FM.
Watch This Trailer For "ANNABELLE COMES HOME"
Lana K. Wilson-Combs is a member of The Broadcast Film Critics’ Association (BFCA), The Black Film Critics Circle (BFCC), The Alliance Of Women Film Journalists (AWFJ) and a Nominating Committee Voting Member for the NAACP Image Awards.