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Review: ‘Annabelle Comes Home’ is a practised source of dread Special

Posted Jun 28, 2019 by Sarah Gopaul
‘Annabelle Comes Home’ carries on the tradition of scary dolls and gives her some playmates for a screaming game of terrorize the kids.
A scene from  Annabelle Comes Home
A scene from 'Annabelle Comes Home'
Warner Bros. Pictures
While some people love and collect vintage porcelain-faced dolls, others rightfully find them incredibly creepy. They inherently seem to have a certain level of sadness or malice attached to them. Long before Chucky took to the screen, people were suspicious of children’s toys. The Annabelle doll had many homes, but it all started when a grieving family adopted her as their surrogate and opened the door to a malevolent demon who terrorized them and all future owners. Eventually paranormal investigators, Ed and Lorraine Warren, were able to contain the evil. In Annabelle Comes Home, a girl learns the meaning of the old adage, “Curiosity killed the cat.”
When the Warrens (Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson) recovered the malignant doll, restraining its wickedness required some effort but they devised a satisfactory solution: a consecrated glass case. With warning signs and a multi-locked room, they thought they’re job was done. Their daughter, Judy (Mckenna Grace), knew the basement was off limits, as did her long-time babysitter, Mary Ellen (Madison Iseman). Unfortunately, no one accounted for her nosey teenage friend, Daniela (Katie Sarife). Sneaking into the restricted vault, she unleashes every horror the Warrens have ever encountered — including Annabelle. Now, the trio will be lucky to survive the night as pure evil permeates every inch of the house.
A quick look at longstanding horror franchises will reveal a devolution of quality over time, both in narrative and their ability to frighten audiences. However, The Conjuring has avoided this pitfall for the most part by diversifying their offerings and branching out to explore more interesting “characters” in greater detail. This is the third movie dedicated to Annabelle, but it goes even deeper into the Warren archive. The film begins with the Warrens taking possession of the demonic doll and the treacherous drive home. They quickly realize she cannot just be left in the room of afflicted objects without causing havoc — a fact that once again makes itself clear when Daniela unleashes the evil.
While Annabelle is still the wicked star of this story, there are a number of other terrors set free in the house, including a creepy board game, an ancient samurai, a murderous spirit and a werewolf. Since it’s difficult to know where the next frightening will come from, there are numerous slow-building scares (many of which amount to nothing). These are balanced with a lot of jump scares as the characters are frequently startled by knocking and slamming. Though it relies heavily on the latter to give audiences a start, the film still creates an eerie atmosphere that lingers after Annabelle’s imprisonment with the help of Judy’s creepy spirit visitors and intensifies when the demon is released.
There are also some less chilling sub-stories to round out the narrative. An article in the local paper about her parents’ line of work prompts the kids at school to begin teasing Judy — though their lack of comprehension takes some of the sting out of their insults. Unfortunately, the poor timing of the exposé is having an impact on the RSVP list for her upcoming birthday party. In the meantime, Mary Ellen likes a boy who lives across from the Warrens, leading to some clumsy conversation and normal teenage awkwardness. These anecdotes act as palate cleansers for the main course.
This is not the scariest movie in the franchise, but first-time director and horror screenwriter Gary Dauberman delivers a solid horror picture that will keep viewers on edge and occasionally give them a good jolt to briefly relieve the tension.
Director: Gary Dauberman
Starring: Madison Iseman, Katie Sarife and Mckenna Grace