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BWW Review: ANNABELLE COMES HOME Doesn't Beat a Dead Horse

BWW Review: ANNABELLE COMES HOME Doesn't Beat a Dead Horse

Warning: This post contains spoilers.

With the Conjuring cinematic universe rapidly expanding since its initial film in 2013, it has seen both commercial successes and mixed reviews. The highly anticipated "Annabelle Comes Home" proves to be a great addition to the franchise in terms of expansion and future possibilities, but is not the strongest film compared to its predecessors.

The third film in the "Annabelle" series features Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, respectively), but focuses on their daughter Judy (McKenna Grace), babysitter Mary Ellen (Madison Iseman) and her friend Daniela (Katie Sarife). The promising premise heats up when Daniela breaks into the Warren's artifact room and tries to contact her father, who passed away in a car crash one year earlier - the same time the Warrens brought the Annabelle doll to reside in their own home. However, once Annabelle catches her attention, she unlocks the glass case, inadvertently unleashing the evil from within the doll and enabling all of the other malevolent spirits lurking inside the room to escape.

The film seemed busy, exploring one too many individual spirits and relics. Between the killer bride, the Ferryman, the werewolf, the cursed samurai armor and the other items that were seen throughout the length of the film, the main focus often gets lost: the Annabelle doll. The doll and presence attached to it have their moments in the film, but the other moving pieces tend to steal the spotlight.

The showcasing of several artifacts and discussing infamous cases investigated by the Warrens helps moves along the story, but rarely raises the stakes and at times, even lessens the fright factor. The scenes are beautifully shot and build suspense (credit to Gary Dauberman, making his directorial debut), but often times there is little to no payoff. There are good scares and moments that make the audience jump, but too much time is spent trying to build tension that has an unsatisfying release.

Coming into the film, I was skeptical it would only be a launchpad for more sequels, but this worry faded away once the history of several of the pieces and entities inhabiting the room were explained unlike, for example, the demonic nun Valak in the "Conjuring 2." In that film, not much of her history is explained nor is there depth to her character. Rather, she is developed in her spinoff, "The Nun" (2018). However, there is still more than enough backstory and possibilities to dive into for potential spinoffs featuring the characters and items in the Warren household.

"Annabelle" (2014) was poor, "Annabelle: Creation" (2017) was better and this film falls in the middle. It's a great addition to the "Annabelle" franchise; it furthers the story and explores more of the doll's history while not beating a dead horse. It introduces new characters as well as revisits familiar faces, and it stays semi-true to reality. Fans of the series will appreciate, if not enjoy this film whereas new viewers may not be totally drawn in.

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