Even as a fan of “The Conjuring” movie universe, I’ll admit that the movies within the line up of the Warrens’ saga have been a mixed bag. But the foot work and improvements they’ve made on the “Annabelle” saga has been pretty fantastic as the studio finally seems to have a firm grasp on why the character is so popular and why she poses such a threat to the Warrens within this movie universe. “Annabelle Comes Home” is an ultimate battle of good vs. evil, exploring how the fight against the paranormal begins and ends at the Warrens’ home base.
Set between the events of “Annabelle” and “The Conjuring,” this mid-quel is centered on Ed and Lorraine’s daughter Judy. After seizing Annabelle, the Warrens bring the cursed doll home and lock her up in her case among their gallery of artifacts. When they are forced to leave for the weekend, Judy is left with her young babysitter Mary Ellen and her best friend Daniela. When Daniela’s curiosity gets the best of her, she accidentally breaks Annabelle free from her prison. Now with Annabelle unleashed and garnering her own ulterior motives, she takes hold of the Warrens’ gallery of objects, prompting the trio to fight off the array of monsters and ghosts before they’re set loose on the world by Annabelle.
“Annabelle Comes Home” tries to fill in the gaps between the various films in “The Conjuring” franchise, and works for the most part, exploring how Annabelle came in to the possession of the Warrens. But the movie is also meant to explore the massive power she tends to hold, and how she’s much more than a possessed doll. She’s also a beacon for massive evil, and once she’s set loose, she’s a horrifying villain. “Annabelle Comes Home” successfully establishes the Warrens’ world, exploring their home life and their young daughter. It’s accomplished thanks to the McKenna Grace, who is always great in these kinds of genre films.
Grace is entertaining as the often enigmatic but heroic Judy who seems to be going through an evolution of her own involving experiences with the supernatural. It’s only implied sporadically why Annabelle has a fascination with Judy but I hope we find out eventually. The movie for the most part is a great and raucously fun monster movie teaming Judy against a gallery of various demons and ghosts that are absolutely horrifying and manage to wreak their own form of terror on screen. “Annabelle Comes Home” doesn’t make much of a case for its importance in the timeline, but it’s a wonderful side tale with top notch direction, stellar scares, and a brilliant heroine established by McKenna Grace who continues impressing.
The new release comes with a DVD and Digital copy for consumers. The features include a Behind the Scenes segment with three small chapters. This BTS focuses on the production, as well as the new monsters within the Conjuring Universe including the Ferryman, the Bloody Bride, and The Werewolf. The Artifact Room and The Occult is a five minute segment exploring the Warrens’ room of cursed items, how they come up with some of them, ones they bring back and the film’s chance to introduce new ones they hadn’t. The Light and the Love is a four minutes sit down with Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, both of whom talk about their characters’ relationship and fun with the movies as well as director James Wans’ desire to show them as the light in the dark worlds they explore. Finally there are eleven minutes of Deleted Scenes.