Warning: minor spoilers ahead
You’ve likely seen The Conjuring and Annabelle: Creation that’s why you’re reading this. You belong to a Dark cluster of people—it’s a real term and is in no way meant to insult others; people who like punk and/or heavy metal, horror, cult entertainment and erotica. You watch horror movies for the ghosts or demons and the gorefest, which the two titles mentioned earlier delivered. So well that you probably (like myself and many others) could not muster the courage to pee in your own bathroom or get a glass of water in the middle of the night because everyone else is asleep and god forbid a demon might jump out of nowhere. The series is based on true events after all… So, when the trailer for Annabelle Comes Home came out, fans were more than ready to be terrorized. But the movie itself? It was a little more Scooby Doo with nods to Paranormal Activity. And maybe that’s not exactly a bad thing.
The movie begins by reacquainting audiences with the Warrens and Annabelle. The paranormal investigating, demon-fighting pair had just volunteered to safekeep the doll, which again, is not the demon itself but its conduit, because they have an occult room where they keep the rest of their evil or cursed artifacts. They bring her home to be blessed by a priest and then locked away safely behind sacred glass. But the story is not about the grown-up Warrens; it’s about their 10-year-old daughter Judy, her babysitter Mary Ellen and their impossibly incautious friend, Daniela.
Unlike its predecessors, Annabelle Comes Home takes place over the course of one very long night. Judy and her babysitter Mary Ellen were gearing up for a wholesome night of birthday cake-baking and some TV. But disaster strikes as an overly curious Daniela, who, fine, had valid motivations, comes over. As typical horror films would have it, Daniela does everything she is told not to, including unleashing not just one but just about every evil spirit in the Warrens’ occult room.
This was followed by a series of cheap but effective shocks and jump scares found in the franchise or in similar titles, like Paranormal Activity and The Haunting of Hill House. Does a demon under the blanket, pulling your feet from under ring any bells? I mean cheap, sure, but no less scary. The main difference with this Annabelle though is this: comic relief in the form of cute and goofy Bob, Mary Ellen’s love interest, and obviously no gore (or not much as I would have wanted). You can imagine how the movie quickly turns into Scooby Doo when Bob smashes a guitar onto the head of a werewolf. Yes, a werewolf.
Annabelle Comes Home explores a different approach to horror as many recent films have (see: Get Out and Us) and borrows from the Marvel franchise to perhaps create their own cinematic universe. The scare elements were routine for me as I was expecting to see new tricks. But the coming-of-age slant was unexpected and refreshing. The sub-themes and lessons on family and friendship, being cautious and forgiveness weren’t profound but necessary for younger audiences. You won’t have to worry about nightmares after seeing this Annabelle.
Did I like it? I’m not a hundred percent sure. Would you? You'll have to see it for yourself.
But would I watch another James Wan horror movie? Hell yes.
Annabelle Comes Home is now showing in cinemas.
Art Alexandra Lara