“Annabelle Comes Home” is the latest film in the franchise what has become known as the Conjuring Universe. Gary Dauberman came up with the screenplay and directed the film which sees the return of Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga as Ed and Lorraine Warren, the adorable paranormal investigators and exorcists. James Wan returns as producer and a co-story developer or something. As far as the cast goes, we get to introduced to young Judy Warren, played by McKenna Grace. Madison Iseman joins in the terror as the babysitter who gets too close of a look at the artifacts of the Warrens’ ghostly pursuits. Katie Sarife is a lesser known actress who plays the babysitter’s best friends who unwittingly releases the unholy gifts of the demonic doll Annabelle.
There was some potential to make the main characters somewhat cliché here, however the female protagonists were quite likeable. Even the somewhat naughty best friend was not beyond redemption. McKenna Grace was a solid casting choice for her role as the Warrens’ daughter. She is pretty but also has an appropriately unusual look that helped to sell her performance. Of course, I am sure there is little that is unusual about the Grace’s features in real life, but she seemed a good fit for this type of film.
Iseman was also quite good as the compassionate, at times heroic babysitter. It was a good choice to give Sarife a back story that was a bit heartbreaking. Her character of Daniela had a little deeper motivation than her reckless demeanor would suggest.
These kind of movies typically portray teen-agers as quite shallow and somewhat deserving of their gruesome fates. This film manages to avoid these clichés, which I found rather refreshing. Yes, there are some of the goofy decisions made which is typical of these kind of films, but I didn’t hate any of the main characters and was rooting for them to outfox the malevolent Annabelle.
The elder Warrens are largely absent in this film, and I found myself missing them a bit, however the three girls at the center of the supernatural maelstrom are interesting enough for me to not get too distracted by that.
There were some pretty effective scares once the spirits are unleashed from the locked room where the Warrens’ keep their souvenirs. The movie isn’t without its predictability though.
Look, this isn’t the greatest of all horror movies, but I think it works well enough for the most part. I have mentioned before that it is nice to see a married couple who are united in their goals and willing to support and indeed save each other from the spooks and ghouls they encounter. It’s an unusual genre to find such support for the idea of committed marriage in a Hollywood production, but I like the Warrens and hope there are some more films to come with them, and I think McKenna Grace could join in as well.
Now these movies are based on an actual couple who apparently looked into these kind of cases. I am sure there are plenty of Hollywood liberties taken in the depiction of Ed and Lorraine, but I don’t have any complaints.
It’s a pretty good time for those of use who have a twisted enjoyment of the macabre. Until next time, Annabelle….