Creaky doors. Doors that slam shut on their own. Mysterious objects that drop towards the protagonist from the shadows. These are just a few of the clichéd attempts to scare viewers in Annabelle Comes Home.
Fans of supernatural horror have followed the saga of Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga), a married couple who investigates demons and witchcraft. The demonologist couple anchors the fictional universe and the spooky stories that lie between The Conjuring and Annabelle. Writer Gary Dauberman, who has written two prior Annabelle movies in the series, debuts as a director in this film. Sadly, his attempt at haunting viewers results in little more than a few jump scares.
Rather than follow the adult Warrens, this time viewers shadow their daughter, young Judy (Mckenna Grace). Straight-laced Mary (Madison Iseman) is charged with babysitting her while the Warrens are out of town. Her rebellious friend Daniela (Katie Sarife) makes an appearance and motivated by a need to reconnect with her dead father, she pressures her way past the Warrens' rule against visitors being allowed in the home. She's bent on getting into the artifact room, and it's there in the basement that she finds Annabelle who's purportedly the most malevolent demon.
There's nothing extraordinary about the plot, and it doesn't help that Dauberman mistimes the pacing of the movie. Rather than move along at a steady, reasonable clip, the movie lingers on moments that add very little to the story. This glacial pacing, uninteresting exposition, and lack of tension make the film a chore to watch. There are a few suspenseful moments that are achieved through clever cinematography. For instance, viewers get a taste of it in a scene in the beginning of the movie when Lorraine is reading a map inside the family station wagon. There's also a circular tracking shot of the woman in the wedding dress. However, these interesting moments are far and few between.
Making matters worse are the wasted concepts and missed opportunities to thrill or frighten viewers. There's a moment involving a Feeley Meeley board game that could've been exploited to great effect. The ending is lazy also. The strength of the demon that possesses Annabelle is supposedly the most malevolent and dangerous demon, but the film's outcome is about as tame and powerless as one could imagine.
Annabelle Comes Home neither broadens the perspective of the Conjuring universe nor deepens it with more intricate lore. Fans of the series will walk out of the theater disappointed, knowing that this movie didn't need to-and arguably shouldn't- have been made.