Release Date: June 26, 2019
Cast: Mckenna Grace, Madison Iseman, and Katie Sarife, along with Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
Review Spoilers: Low
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The Conjuring universe continues to sprawl, with Annabelle Comes Home, the third entry of the Annabelle story, and seventh overall. Pretty wild stuff, but with box offices like these it should be no surprise they keep going back to the well. With Annabelle Comes Home, it seems clearer than ever that even the filmmakers want to find a new source to tap.

It’s 1971 and the Warrens (played wonderfully, if briefly, by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) bring home the spooky haunted doll Annabelle to their treasure trove of Bad Stuff (TM). When they leave their daughter home with a babysitter over night, things go south and the Bad Stuff wakes up, tormenting the child, babysitter, and plucky friend through the night.

Annabelle Comes Home has some stuff that works. It has some spooky imagery, new demons or ghosts or whatever that flood out of the Warren museum to torment the kids. The human characters, like interactions between Madison Iseman’s Mary Ellen and Bob ‘Got Balls’ Palmeri (Michael Cimino) are genuinely charming at times, much to my surprise.

But for every interesting scare, there is a lame one. A bad visual effect or or a perfunctory return to the Annabelle plot that amounts to nothing more than ‘put her back in the case.’ Despite being the titular monster, Annabelle is far from the scariest thing here and the absolute least interesting by leaps and bounds.

There’s a werewolf monster (unfortunately rendered with some rough CGI), a traditional devilish demon, a ferryman demon thing who looks terrifying, and when the characters have to survive them the movie speeds along fine. The mandatory detour back to Annabelle kills all momentum.

Annabelle Comes Home feels like a try out reel for the next “standout” Conjuring Universe series. You can practically hear the executives working it out, “Which will audiences connect with the most? The werewolf? The murderous bride? Make a two picture deal for The Ferryman!” It makes the movie feel wholly unnecessary, an exercise in market research.

Instead of chilling scares and a horrifying story, we are treated as a test audiences for The Next Scary Thing.

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