Only a few horror films are truly memorable. Others rack up a few enjoyable scares and are then quickly forgotten; sadly, Annabelle Comes Home falls in the latter category.
Annabelle Comes Home is the third instalment of the Annabelle movies that has paranormal investigators Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) lock the doll in a glass case in a room in their house. It’s also where they keep all the other evil artefacts they collected and locked up over the years. However, when the Warrens are on assignment and leave their daughter Judy (McKenna Grace) with her babysitter Mary Ellen (Madison Iseman) and her friend Daniela (Katie Sarife), all hell breaks loose. With several evil spirits out to get them, and the Warrens nowhere in sight, can the three girls survive?
The idea of a room filled with evil artefacts from all over the world sounds terrifying, which is what raised the audience’s expectations of Annabelle Comes Home. However, the film did not do much with that potential except unleash a bunch of those spirits for some quick and random haunted house scares.
Also, the supposed centre of the horror is barely present; Annabelle is made out to be the core of the mischief, but the audience hardly sees her or her influence. Instead, the film is one terrifying spirit after another, wreaking havoc and terrorising the three girls. Annabelle is just kind of there.
What the filmmakers are able to do is use suspense to the fullest, with prolonged moments of silence before the scares, and using multiple fake frights before the actual scare happens. This has the audience constantly holding their breath and holding it back again and again throughout the film’s first half.
The second half, where most of the spirits appear, is problematic; not only for the line-up of spirits taking turns to scare the girls but also with how they are represented. Some of the spirits are frightening, but others (like some sort of a wolf) look ridiculous and are more funny than scary.
For the acting, Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga had small roles simply to set up the plot of the movie to come, and did an excellent job, just as they did in the franchise’s previous films. Playing their daughter Judy, McKenna Grace gave a solid performance as a child suffering from bullying due to what her parents do for a living. Madison Iseman also delivered a strong performance and was able to master the necessary, but most important emotion, in horror features; fear. Katie Sarife’s performance as the cheeky Daniela was only lacking when it came to her emotional connection with her dad, which was the character’s motive.
Annabelle Comes Home offers nothing too groundbreaking and is probably a cluttered mess, but it will definitely have you holding your breath.