Demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) entomb a cursed doll called Annabelle in their basement. Locked inside a sacred, glass case, they believe her evil influences have finally been contained…but have they?
... yet another cushion-scruncher for the easily afraid.
The latest in ‘The Conjuring’ series of films, ‘Annabelle Returns Home’ is yet another cushion-scruncher for the easily afraid. This time in the directorial hands of series writer Gary Dauberman, all of the same reliances are back for another wagging of the dog. Lights go out for no reason, torch batteries fail at the slightest and for the already retina-scarred amongst you, loud-floor-dragging makes an unwelcome return. However chief amongst this episode’s ’which trope shall I dig up next?’ is directorial blocking. The venerable art of ‘obscuring the background to suddenly reveal something creepy’ makes such a frequent appearance, it actually deserves equal billing with the cast.
“Not all ghosts are bad”, repeats Mckenna Grace as Judy Warren, the demonologist’s daughter left in the care of baby sitter Mary Ellen (Madison Iseman). Unfortunately for her, most of the bad ones are gathered together in the basement. That said, in a surprisingly restrained move ‘Annabelle Comes Home’ keeps its horror entreé cool until after the half-way mark. Building up some reasonable suspense in amongst its audible groans, this sequel actually emerges as one of the stronger of ‘Conjuring’ series.
Mckenna Grace is more than solid as the devout daughter who knows more than she should. Madison Iseman’s girl next door baby sitter is cutely kind and Katie Sarife as the interfering friend gets the most to-do as the caustic catalyst. Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga are left to bookend proceedings but the majority of the movie is made up of three girls in a house with a doll called Annabelle. Done.
Successfully stepping away from the cloyingly-naff characterisations of ‘The Curse of La Llorona’, ‘Annabelle Comes Home’ is in fact a decent-ish return of sorts. Whilst its characters don’t do the stupidest things, its meandering string section is always there to help out. Trading punches with the lighting department as to who can announce themselves most obviously, crucifixes tumble and lights flicker as the next veiled chill makes its way from the back of the set.
In not so much a conjuring as another slight of handsomely realised camera moves, ‘Annabelle Comes Home’ becomes a sequel that neither adds nothing nor takes anything away. Delivering exactly what what you had before, fans of the series will feel satiated until the next fresh pretext is dug up.
Preserved in such a way that, should the right bank notes fall from your pockets, Annabelle will definitely be back. With her friends. In the shadows. Behind the curtains. Behind the fridge door annnd…