Annabelle Comes Home Review: A Mediocre Mess

While director James Wan has taken the backseat to much of the conjuring universe these days, the latest installment in this supernatural horror franchise could have used his direction. With a mediocre script penned by Gary Dauberman, and with Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga taking a step back as protagonists, this film barely scrapes the bottom of what could have been a cinematic horror toure de force. 

Casting and Plot

One of the main issues one easily has with this film falls squarely on its plot and casting choices. Both Madison Iseman (Mary Ellen) and Katie Sarife (Daniela Rios) are both uninteresting and stereotypical teenagers that resemble every other adolescent character from horror films past. Nothing about the writing adds any depth to their persona and the B-plot of Daniela seeking to contact her dead father felt tacked on at best. The inciting incident that drives the plot of this film is completely absurd with Daniela finding the keys to the Warren’s demonic vault and unleashing all its terrors. The film’s love interest, Michael Cimino (Bob Palmeri) feels out of place and genuinely exists merely to soften the blows of this lackluster supernatural comedy hybrid. He and the character Mary Ellen lack all of the on-screen charisma to warrant a romantic edge to the plot. Palmeri’s inclusion in the Conjuring Universe is implemented to garner a younger audience and his sole purpose is for comedic relief. Truly a vain purpose from a screenwriting standpoint  

In the end, all this served to undermine an already weak plot and truly ruined what could have been a great movie-going experience. 

Judy Warren (Mckenna Grace) is by far the stand out performance in this film. As her isolation, sadness and psychological torture from having the gift of clairvoyance are felt in every scene. Rarely does this film deliver on its franchises expectations, with most of the exposition being filled in by filler dialogue and comical gestures. Nothing about this film feels like an Annabelle sequel except for the fact that it is set in the Warren home. No wonder Farmiga and Wilson merely bookend this abhorrent third rate entry. 

The Light At The End Of The Horror Tunnel

With poor casting, weak plot, and lack of a true protagonist, this film still had its strong points. The third act in particular really ramps up the horror and some of the shot/reverse shots in the dark corridors of the Warren home are genuinely horrifying. Editor Kirk Morri does a phenomenal job of placing the Soundtrack at the right moments of the on-screen action. Those images of the coins on the eyes of the spirit were bone chilling and were greatly enhanced by Morri’s visual cues. The lighting too is spot on, ranging from noir like darkness to surrealistic ambers of light that really played with audience interpretation of life and death. The production quality is top notch and Wan does show his hand once in a while as the film’s producer. But in the end, all this is not enough to overcome the poor writing that infects this entry in the Annabelle franchise. 

The Verdict 

With all this in mind, it seems as if Annabelle Comes Home is doomed to disaster and yet one cannot simply want to see more from the franchise. An absurd plot and mediocre cast performance do little to deter from the malevolence of Annabelle’s demonic nature. The incarnation of the doll in its true form, that of a satanic-like goat, is mesmerizing when fully displayed on screen for the first time. Such inspection of this modern day horror icon is what audiences wanted to see and should have during the run time of this sequel. But such glimpses were fleeting and too far and few in between. Viewers were left wanting more and not in the way such a storied franchise would expect. A true disappointment from start to finish. 

About Anthony Frisina 75 Articles
Anthony Frisina is a graduate of the City University of New York-Brooklyn College with a BA in Political Science with a minor in Psychology. After finishing his undergraduate degree, Anthony went on to attend Brooklyn College's Film Academy and Writer's workshop program, achieving an interdisciplinary degree in Screenwriting and Film theory in the Fine Arts. Transforming his love for classic American cinema, Anthony went on to adapt a number of his own works into different mediums, including his well-received Western novel The Regulator. Anthony likes to spend his free time writing articles for magazines and periodicals that cover a wide range of topics, from science fiction to popular culture. As a screenwriter, Anthony has had his screenplays featured at numerous spec script writing competitions across the country where he one day hopes to write the next great American film.

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