15th Jul2019

‘Annabelle Comes Homes’ Review

by Jak-Luke Sharp

Stars: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Mckenna Grace, Madison Iseman, Katie Sarife, Michael Cimino, Samara Lee | Written and Directed by Gary Dauberman


Annabelle Comes Home, directed by occasional franchise writer Gary Dauberman, is the latest entry into the ongoing Conjuring property and sets itself just after the events of the first Annabelle feature with the Warrens, played by returning actors Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, bringing the demonic doll back to their sacred museum for storage. What unfolds is arguably the best story told and the most frightening and impactful horror in the franchise since the first Conjuring feature.

Dauberman’s film is a perfect culmination of the series thus far. Managing to stand out on its own and not a constant barrage of dependable referential tie-ins that most franchises almost seven films deep tend to gravitate towards. Granted, Dauberman pulls out the big guns with the inclusion of famed horror icons the Warrens, of whom make bloated cameo appearances but ultimately only bookend the feature. A smart decision to not only sell the film to audiences that are perhaps waning interest in this constantly growing franchise by naturally passing the torch contextually to the next generation of where this franchise could possibly go. By creating an easily implemented emotional bond within the film with a group of characters the audience already deeply care for, and not a random family with lacklustre character development suffering from a haunting.

McKenna Grace holds Annabelle Comes Home together like glue with a terrific scene-stealing performance as Judy Warren. The depth and thematic weight Grace puts forward is staggering. Comparable of that to any and all child actress in a horror film in the last two decades she is tenfold better with a stupendous emotional reaction to each and every sequence. Grace captures a terrific assortment of naturality and enchanting impactful intensity of just being Judy Warren on a daily basis. Her performance evolves as such when the film unfolds and goes up a gear. A clear indication of the fabulous range and maturity Grace holds in her talent as an actress.

Gary Dauberman’s film on paper is a masterful idea to naturally bring everything back that works, characters and aesthetic included, within the franchise and embellish each factor and every frantic scare by enclosing it in the catastrophic intimate setting of one house. It’s gloriously intense, broodingly atmospheric and hauntingly spooky from its first moments until its very last. Think old school horror of Wes Craven’s The People Under the Stairs or even that of Tobe Hooper’s Poltergeist. The intensity never leaves this feature for a minute. A constant barrage of evocative tightness that broods to an unrelenting form of horror that should be deemed assault rather than entertainment.

Annabelle Comes Home is relentlessly full on and manages to succeed in doing so for the full running time of one hundred and sixteen minutes. There isn’t one moment here of self-reflection, or a breathable space for the film to calm itself down and pause. Often enough such an element is usually a film of this calibre’s downfall. A constant barrage of anything results in regurgitation and repetition, however, with how immersive and internally effective Gary Dauberman’s film is, it never falls into the bracket. It has the newfound “James Wan Horror Aesthetic” that wonderfully holds each and every second of tension in perfect delivery, courtesy of the cinematography by Michael Burgess. You’re engulfed into this image of silent dread. You know out of genre convention the scare is coming but the film makes you wait out each and every second in antagonising dread.

Annabelle Comes Home, is arguably the most unlike any Conjuring feature thus far, ironic with it arguably containing the most connective tissue with each instalment before it. With this new found breath of fresh air, it has no restraints or conventional qualities to follow. It is a goldmine of internal and contextual exploration and Dauberman succeeds in bringing a distinctive life to proceedings thrilling and horrifying his audience with each and every second that unfolds.

Annabelle Comes Home is in cinemas now.


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