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Blu-ray Review: Annabelle Comes Home

October 8, 2019

By John Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

The latest entry into the Conjuring franchise, and the third spinoff film focusing on the doll Annabelle who serves as the through line of the series, Annabelle Comes Home is a solid and entertaining sequel that does a good job of expanding upon the mythology of this cinematic universe.

The film opens with paranormal investigators Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) acquiring the Annabelle doll, which has a history of being used as a conduit for evil spirits, and bringing her back to the artifact room in their basement, where she is put in a locked cabinet for safekeeping.

The focus then shifts to Ed and Lorraine’s adolescent daughter, Judy (Mckenna Grace), who is being bullied at school because word has gotten out about what her parents do, and she is starting to experience her mother’s visions. Judy’s parents are going away for the night, leaving her in the care of teenaged babysitter Mary Ellen (Madison Iseman). When Mary Ellen’s friend, Daniela Rios (Katie Sarife), who is fascinated by the Warrens and interested in the supernatural, comes over to the house, it’s not long before she sneaks down to the artifact room. Annabelle is inevitably taken out of her glass case, and a variety of malevolent spirits begin to wreak havoc upon the girls.

The film serves as the directorial debut of screenwriter Gary Dauberman, who is no stranger to the horror genre or this series, having also written the screenplays for the first two films Annabelle and Annabelle: Creation, as well as fellow Conjuring spinoff The Nun and both It films. What works about Annabelle Comes Home is that Dauberman takes time to develop these characters, allowing us to hang out with and get to know Judy, Mary Ellen and Daniela before it turns into a full-on horror show. This approach allows the tension to build organically throughout the film, and actually somewhat harkens back to John Carpenter’s original Halloween, right down to the plot involving babysitters.

The Warrens’ artifact room provides one of the main focal points, and serves as an impressive feat of production design. There are throwbacks to other films in the series and presumably some teasers for things to come, as we are introduced to several creepy new antagonists which are designed to terrorize our main characters and could provide the basis for future spinoff films. These include The Ferryman (Alexander Ward), a Grim Reaper-like spirit in a long, dark cloak who has coins over his eyes and is inspired by Charon, a figure from Greek mythology who collects coins in exchange for guiding souls across the river Styx; as well as the Bloody Bride (Natalia Safran), who dons a haunted wedding dress that turns the wearer into a homicidal maniac.

There’s even a werewolf, which provides a nice throwback to one of the Warren’s most famous real life cases, which has yet to be adapted to film but will hopefully provide the basis for an upcoming entry into the series. While Annabelle Comes Home is not overly scary, and I’m actually surprised that it even got an R rating to match the other films in the series as it feels more like a hard PG-13, this is a thoroughly enjoyable entry into the franchise that delivers exactly what you want it to. The film offers a few jumps matched by a nicely established sense of atmosphere, and it’s overall well paced, solidly crafted, and carried by likeable performances from its young cast.

The Blu-ray also includes a decent selection of bonus features, starting with a trio of behind the scenes featurettes (The Ferryman/Demon, The Bloody Bride, and The Werewolf) which reveal how these evil characters were brought to the screen through a mix of makeup and practical effects. These are followed by two featurettes entitled The Artifact Room and the Occult and The Light and the Love, as well as a selection of seven deleted scenes (Roller Skate, Kitchen, Birthday Cake, Daniela and the Bride, Search for Annabelle, Alternative Ending, and Talk About the Werewolf).

Annabelle Comes Home is a Warner Bros. Home Entertainment release. It’s 106 minutes and rated 14A.

Street Date: October 8th, 2019

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