A Brief History
On June 26, 2019, the third installment of the Annabelle haunted doll movie franchise opens across the United States. We had the opportunity to preview the film last week, and as fans of the first 2 films, we were anxiously awaiting this third movie in the Annabelle portion of the Conjuring movie universe. This time, instead of the doll itself being possessed by a malevolent spirit, the doll is a portal for other malevolent spirits.
The departure in the concept of how the evil works may bother some finicky “purists” that insist all prequels and sequels must align perfectly with the original story, but we did not think this digression mattered at all to appreciating the movie. In fact, the excuse to bring to “life” various other malevolent entities, ghosts with enough corporeal substance to do real harm, worked pretty good in giving the film scary transitions that kept audience attention a high state.
Not unusual for many modern horror movies, elements of humor were thrown in, and judging from liberal audience laughter, those jokes worked just fine. In fact, some of the jump scares and more graphic events depicted on screen also elicited audience laughter as well as the expected gasps. A little bit slow to start while relationships and character development took place, once the horror started it was pretty relentless.
The premise of the film revolves around Annabelle, a possessed and thoroughly evil doll vis a vis its interaction with the Warrens, a married couple of ghost busters based on a real-life pair. Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga reprise their roles as the Warrens and do a highly creditable job portraying the ghost fighting duo, shown as a serious and believing team and without any allusion to chicanery or scams. The Warrens keep a special room (locked of course) in their home containing all sorts of demonic items, relics possessed by evil spirits and the like. Their young daughter, Judy, played to a “T” by Mckenna Grace, is looked after by high school student Mary Ellen, played by Madison Iseman. Mary Ellen is a highly sympathetic character, nice looking and with a warm heart. Mary Ellen’s friend, Daniella, played by Katie Sarife, is another teen cutie and is the older sister of the boy that bullies Judy at school.
As you know from previous reviews, we do not like to spoil the movie for you, so we will gloss over details to allow you to enjoy the film as intended. So, without going into detail, evil is unleashed, and the girls must fight to stay alive through a harrowing night of spooks, monsters, murderers and specters, all forms of ghosts. (Throw in a werewolf and you are complete!) Not to exclude boys from the mix, we get the love-struck teen cliché and the dopey “high” pizza delivery guy cliché as well!
Annabelle Comes Home is written and directed by Gary Dauberman, the writer’s first stab at directing. (James Wan co-wrote the movie.) Dauberman previously wrote the screen plays to other films in the Conjuring/Annabelle movie universe, so there is a consistency involved despite the departure in the nature of Annabelle’s curse. (In fact, Dauberman co-wrote the 2017 screenplay version of the Stephen King novel, It.) The tone remains similar to the other films in the franchise, and the director does an admirable job of keeping the characters at the proper level of emotion and attention throughout the movie. The 106 minute running time seems just about right, a tad longer than many horror films but shorter than serious dramas. Special effects are nothing special, though they work just fine in this particular movie that is not meant to rely on splashy effects.
As with other films in the Conjuring/Annabelle film universe, the audience gets a glimpse of the real-life people and items depicted in the movie, a really nifty touch. The movie is rated “R,” and we agree that younger children and tweens may well be spooked by the film and parental discretion is required. Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed the movie and recommend it for teens and adults. Annabelle Comes Home gets a 62% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the site that combines numerous critical reviews, a considerably better score than some of the other movies we have seen lately that we found highly entertaining. (Rotten Tomatoes does not yet have an “audience score” to report.) We suspect audiences will enjoy the movie as much as our test audience did, which was pretty well.
Question for students (and subscribers): Do you believe a doll or other inanimate object could be possessed by an evil spirit? Let us know in the comments section below this article.
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For more information, please see…
Brittle, Gerald. The Demonologist: The Extraordinary Career of Ed and Lorraine Warren. Graymalkin Media, 2013.
Sealyham, Taffy. Annabelle: The Cursed Doll. Amazon Digital Services, 2014.
Toner, Alan. Haunted Objects. CreateSpace, 2017.
The featured image in this article, a scaled-down, low-resolution image of a poster for Annabelle Comes Home, is used in an article intended for educational purposes to provide critical commentary on the film in question per fair use under the copyright law of the United States.