It might surprise most to know that the Conjuring Universe is one of the most dependable in cinema. The brainchild of James Wan, the Universe features two branches: the Conjuring and Annabelle. The former features a better track record, while the first Annabelle might one of the worst horror films of the last decade. However, they’re combined in director Gary Dauberman sequel, which is more Conjuring than Annabelle, Annabelle Comes Home: a surprisingly simple and enjoyable horror flick.
Annabelle Comes Home isn’t so much a killer-doll story as much a haunted house horror. The film’s basic premise follows the Warrens: Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) and Ed (Patrick Wilson), of the previous Conjurings. Their basement is filled all assortments of haunted, bewitched, and cursed objects: a bride’s dress, a television, a typewriter, etc. However, the doll Annabelle is their most “prized” possession: an object capable of awakening spirits.
Their notoriety is well-known in their town, much to the detriment of their daughter Judy (McKenna Grace), an outcast in her school. With no friends, and schooled in the occult, the only person close to her is her babysitter Mary Ellen (Madison Iseman). However, when her parents go out of town, and Mary invites her friend Daniela (Katie Sarife) — who’s all-too interested in the triple-padlocked room housing Annabelle and the other ghastly objects, the three must fight through the night to survive.
Annabelle Comes Home briskly skips. With a compact 106 minute runtime, Dauberman’s script matches sparks of jump scares with a light edge. For one, there’s Mary’s crush Bob (Michael Cimino). An unwitting love struck fool, Bob spends much of time serenading Mary, and later, dodging the ghouls outside.
On the terror meter, Annabelle Comes Home won’t give anyone nightmares, falling into “white people” doing white people stuff. On the other hand, Daniela’s backstory doesn’t cut as deep as it should, and even though the Warrens barely feature in the film, inevitably Dauberman’s aspirations aren’t more than providing an entertaining horror. The story fulfills the charge, while providing a poignant undercurrent of an outcast girl without friends, which is the true heart of the film. A solid entry into the Conjuring universe, Annabelle Comes Home is an enjoyable Saturday night flick with great rewatch value.