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Annabelle Comes Home Movie Review

Annabelle Comes Home (2019) movie poster Annabelle Comes Home

Theatrical Release: June 26, 2019 / Running Time: 100 Minutes / Rating: R

Director: Gary Dauberman / Writers: Gary Dauberman (screenplay, story & characters); James Wan (story)

Cast: Vera Farmiga (Lorraine Warren), Patrick Wilson (Ed Warren), Mckenna Grace (Judy Warren), Madison Iseman (Mary Ellen), Katie Sarife (Daniela Rios), Michael Cimino (Bob Palmeri), Samara Lee (Bee)

 

Take note, people. June 2019 is a renaissance for movies about dolls that are alive.
Over the course of one week, we're getting not one, not two, but three movies that fit that seemingly narrow definition. There's Toy Story 4, a sequel some had reservations about, but just about everyone will see. There's Child's Play, a remake/would-be reboot about the killer doll Chucky that seems destined to disappoint, with even the original franchise's creators voicing their opposition. Then there is Annabelle Comes Home, which I'm not sure anyone knows how to categorize.

It's the third Annabelle movie, but less a sequel than a spin-off. It should meet demand while ensuring Warner Bros. Pictures doesn't let a season pass without expanding their lucrative Conjuring universe of R-rated horror films.

A 1970s babysitting gig goes awry in "Annabelle Comes Home."

Annabelle, as you probably know, is a creepy looking old doll that is said to be possessed by a demon's spirit. It's a threat that has been assessed and eradicated by Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga), the married couple of paranormal investigators at the heart of the semi-historical Conjuring series. The two actors reprise what has become their signature roles in bookending sequences that give Comes Home an appealing and direct link to The Conjuring.

After the forgettable yet comfortingly familiar prologue lays some groundwork, the Warrens bow out, leaving us with their daughter Judy (Mckenna Grace), her great babysitter Mary Ellen (Madison Iseman), and Mary Ellen's friend Daniela (Katie Sarife). The specifics of plot and character have never seemed less important in this series. All you really need to know is that Daniela sneaks down to the Warrens' basement of haunted artifacts and ignores the sign strongly warning to leave Annabelle in her glass case. The incident is enough for Annabelle to escape captivity and though she features surprisingly little in a film bearing her name and sold on her image, she seems responsible for the assortment of disturbances that come down upon the household in Mom and Dad's absence.

There's a nightmare-inducing demon and, naturally, a monkey with cymbals. There's also a lovestruck boy (Michael Cimino) who tries wooing Mary Ellen with a little song on his guitar. And with this being set in the '70s, Captain Kangaroo makes an appearance on a television screen.

Annabelle, the creepy, possessed, old doll from "The Conjuring", gets her third movie before even the original series does.

Is any of this still based on actual Warren case files? Does it mean anything to those who strongly believe in all of this supernatural stuff? At least what unfolds here is slightly less standard issue than the exorcism shenanigans of spring's Conjuring-adjacent The Curse of La Llorona. But that one had Mexican folklore to help it stand out.
This Annabelle seems to exist only because the last two movies with Annabelle in their title made around $300 million worldwide each on budgets of just $6 to $15 million.

If you could get that sort of return on investment for a few months of modest creativity, wouldn't you? It'd be kind of irresponsible not to. There's not even the risk of tarnishing some reputation because while the Conjuring films have been well received, the first Annabelle was trashed by critics and moviegoers, and deservedly so. 2017's Annabelle: Creation performed better, but literally none of the concerns over Toy Story 4 maintaining a gold standard apply here.

Even if Comes Home gets saddled with the front-loaded box office and negative reviews of last fall's The Nun, Warner still comes out ahead, with an anticipated five-day opening haul of $35 million. That's chump change to Pixar, but so too is the budget, which has not been announced, but would most likely fall under "low to quite low." As Lionsgate's Saw and Paramount's Paranormal Activity franchises go, you're kind of expected to keep churning these inexpensive horror flicks out until the people stop coming. So this probably is not the end of Annabelle and we already know the Warrens will be back in September 2020 for The Conjuring 3, at the very least.

Related Reviews:
Annabelle • The Conjuring • The Conjuring 2 • The Nun • The Curse of La Llorona
Mckenna Grace: Gifted • Mr. Church • Independence Day: Resurgence • Captain Marvel
Insidious • Insidious: Chapter 2 • Paranormal Activity 3
Now in Theaters: Ma • Toy Story 4 • Dark Phoenix • Men in Black International

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Reviewed June 24, 2019.



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