Annabelle comes home is the latest film in The Conjuring Universe and the third in the Annabelle series; about the killer doll of the same name. This newest entry answers the question of what happens after series heroes The Warrens take Annabelle home for the first time. That said Ed and Lorraine Warren, (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) are mostly absent for the entirety of this film with it instead focus on the rag-tag group of the Warren’s daughter Judy, her babysitter Mary Ellen and her friend Daniela as they battle Annabelle and a series of spooks and demons. Therein lies the problem with this film; it feels like a Conjuring 2.5 that no one wanted. For those who aren’t intimately familiar with the Conjuring series the first Annabelle film setup what she can do and her place within the universe after being introduced all the way back in the original Conjuring, and then the second Annabelle film established her creation and backstory. In short, this third film served no purpose, the end of the original Conjuring reveals the dolls addition to the Warrens collection, so in terms of broader narrative this film added very little new. Whats-more this film makes it painfully apparent that Warner Brothers are testing the water to see what new spin-offs they can make, the Bride? The Ferry Man? That suit of samurai amour? To this end it the film almost feels cheap with it just being used as a test case.
Furthermore, I found the inclusion of the Warren’s annoying as I and many others would have just preferred the Conjuring 3; where they would have something interesting to do, instead of just being around to plan their kids birthday party. Moreover, and this is a problem not only with this film but the wider Conjuring Universe, the scares have become that formulaic that they are no longer scary if you have seen one movie you have seen them all. The over-reliance on jump scares and audio ques is painfully apparent, and the audience is noticing; this film has been one of the worst performers of the whole CU. My criticisms are coming from a place of love as I genuinely do have a great fondness for these series, I feel burnt out, disappointed, disenchanted with what once was great. This latest entry while not a bad film by any means is a beacon of everything I’m saying and is incredibly average. The cast is a collection of stereotypes and cliches, with one having a dead parent who she feels responsible for; haven’t we all heard that one before. The only member of the cast who makes you feel anything is horror veteran Mckenna Grace, who plays Judy as vulnerable and in need of some friends. What makes her character so good is the reason she is alone is that all of the other kids know what her parents do and fear her for it, making for an interesting to think about the dynamic between parent and child; with a sweet moment in the end. Ultimately this film is more like a feature-length episode of Goosebumps, having lost all the edge that made the franchise so popular. While I remain hopeful for the Conjuring 3, this film shows a worrying trend in the Conjuring movies, reaping the lack of scares that comes with using the same jump scares over and over again. It’s watchable if not memorable.