Annabelle Comes Home 2019 ***

annabelleThere seems to be confusion as to which number in the Conjuring film sequence this is; with two Conjurings, two Annabelles, a Nun and a Weeping Woman so far, so that makes Gary Dauberman’s directorial debut number seven. Dauberman has been a regular writer on the James Wan productions, and seems to know what the audience wants; world-building, jump-scares, no time-wasting and minimal characterisation. The various off-shoots have all be successful, but partly at the expense of the original conceit; Lorraine and Ed Warren (Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson) appear briefly in the bookends of this story, but it’s really about three teenage girls and marks a clear case of the franchise treading water; it feels like we’re watching the reserves rather than the A team. Gifted’s Mckenna Grace, plus Madison Iseman and Katie Sarife are the teenagers who unwisely tamper with the security on the basement store of their Connecticut house, unleashing the horror of evil doll Annabelle. Except Annabelle doesn’t do much, so there’s a host of other objects to make up the numbers. A haunted Samurai suit! The coin-dropping Ferryman! A Essex werewolf! A haunted dress! A haunted board-game! It’s hard to imagine any of these creations managing their own stand-alone film. If it sounds a bit desperate, it is; even fans of the franchise will feel that their patience is being stretched. That said, the Conjuring universe is a class act, with period detail, humour and decent acting that puts most other horror films to shame. Whether Conjuring 3 can get things back on track remains to be seen, but Annabelle Comes Home doesn’t feel like the prodigal return that horror fans might have hoped for.

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