Sunday, June 30, 2019

Review: "Annabelle Comes Home" is the best stand-alone Annabelle film

Annabelle Comes Home Review

Hollywood has become the business of setting up a universe of movies. Sequels and prequels won't do the trick. We need entire worlds on our screens now. So far, only one company has done that well, and they are also the company that got it started. I am talking, of course, about the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Everyone else who has stepped up to try and get some of their own shared universe money have mostly fallen flat.

One franchise that has stayed in the game has been "The Conjuring Universe" and I really don't know what else to call this franchise. I just know that they've been keeping in the game ever since "The Conjuring" hit theaters in 2013, introducing us to Ed and Lorraine Warren, two experts in demonology and paranormal investigators. They have a room of artifacts they've continually blessed over the years, and that can lead to a huge host of stories. Which the franchise have indulged. Again, not all the "Annabelle" movies are that good and "The Nun" was pretty terrible. But they've kept the stories coming and people are enjoying what they are seeing. This third Annabelle movie is the best so far.

Patrick Wilson and Vera Farminga return as Ed and Lorraine and as the movie opens, they are taking Annabelle off the hands of a poor family. On the drive home, the doll is definitely starts messing with them and an opening title card says that the Warrens thought that the doll was the most malovent artifact they ever gathered. Funny, the real Annabelle doll was a Raggity Anne doll. Its drives me nuts that Hollywood seems to have the need to purposely make things look scary. When something normal acting abnormal would be scarier. But that's just a personal hang-up.

We jump in time a bit and meet Ed and Lorraine's daughter Judy (McKenna Grace). Judy is sorta like the typical creepy kid we see in movies like this and I wonder if the real Judy was actually like this in real life. The Judy we see is skittish and a loner, the type of girl we'd expect to see from demonologist parents. She is frequently bullied and she's unsure if anybody is going to come to her upcoming birthday party. She is already seeing things and testing her clairvoyance. One person close to her in her life is her babysitter Mary Ellen (Madison Iseman) who is watching her overnight while her parents are out. Mary Ellen's friend Daniela (Katie Sarife) invites herself over to the house after the Warren's leave. She's interested in their jobs and interested in their room of artifacts. At first, I was ready to write the movie off. Because of course Daniela gets herself into the room of artifacts and starts messing with them. Despite Mary Ellen and Judy telling her not to. I figured this would be another case of teenagers behaving in a way that teenagers don't really do in order to access cheap scares.

Turns out Daniela is going through a personal trauma and she wants answers, hoping to discover a life after Earth. Which leads her to wake up the spirit of Annabelle. While the movie is called "Annabelle Comes Home" it could have easily been called "Annabelle and Friends." Because Daniela literally messes with nearly all the artifacts in the room. When that happens and when the scary shit starts showing up. It. Literally. Never. Stops. "Annabelle Comes Home" is a relentless assault of scares of all types. It never gives you time to relax and catch your breath. It never stops scaring you.

Do all the scares work? Not really. Of course Mary Ellen has a crush. And of course that crush goes to the Warrens house to see her. And his big scene is that he is stalked by a werewolf. A completely CGI werewolf that doesn't look real. That made the whole auditorium erupt in laughter.

In speaking of an auditorium, this is a great audience movie. If you go for one reason, go with a crowd. Listen carefully to the other crowds. It will be part of the fun.

The acting stays consistent throughout the movie and this young cast does well. The movie doesn't shake loose all of its cliches. For a guy who has worked with children of all ages since 2010, I can tell you that children are not as stupid as ignorant adults like to think they are. I can't imagine teenagers behaving the way they do in some points in this movie. BUT tis what happens in horror movies in order to generate scares. I guess. Smart horror movies exist too, so it is possible to write horror movies with smart people. In fact, it makes those movies even scarier. This particular cast though gets you to care, and that is enough.

This movie could work as a gateway of sorts of other adventures. Lets dissect every artifact in that room. Let's hear the stories of all these things. While I liked this movie, I've had enough of Annabelle, give me some more stories in this universe though, I am having a good time here.


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