It used to be that January and August were the big months for horror films here in Hong Kong but with the recent successes of such hits as GET OUT, US, HEREDITARY, the IT remake, the films in THE CONJURING Universe and others, anytime is now horror time. July 2019 is turning out to be Demonic Doll Month here with the releases of ANNABELLE COMES HOME this week and the remake of CHILD’S PLAY next.
As the title of ANNABELLE COMES HOME reveals, the doll that seems to be the beacon for demonic spirits to run amok among us has moved on. The “home”, though, belongs to none other than famed demonologists Ed (Patrick Wilson, AQUAMAN) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga, THE JUDGE), who are at the center of THE CONJURING Universe. The time is now 1968 and the Warrens bring Annabelle home where they put her in a sacred glass case under lock and key in a room full of all the couple’s other demonically-possessed artifacts that they have collected over the years. That room, not surprisingly, is under multiple locks, and signs are posted everywhere warning people not to enter. It doesn’t take a genius to know where this story is going. But what’s new (for the ANNABELLE series but not for THE CONJURING series) is that the Warrens now have a young daughter, Judy (this time played by Mckenna Grace, CAPTAIN MARVEL; I, TONYA). Fast forward four years and the Warrens need to go away for the night so they leave the 10-year-old in the care of their very trustworthy teenage sitter, Mary Ellen (Madison Iseman, JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE). Everything goes swimmingly well until Mary Ellen runs into her bff, Daniela Rios (Katie Sarife), at the supermarket. Daniela, who is still harbouring guilt over her father’s death a year earlier, decides to invite herself over to the Warren’s house where… well, you can imagine.
THE CONJURING Universe films are not noted for being high art but they do offer audiences a hefty dose of cheap thrills and chills. ANNABELLE COMES HOME is no different in that regard and fans of “intelligent” horror films may come away from this one a bit disappointed. The film packs in every tired horror trope there is from things that seemingly move on their own to creaking doors to a bloody knife to fog and more. I don’t know about you but when I’m home alone at night, I turn on every darn light in the house. In this film, no one thinks about turning a light on when night falls. The film kind of works, though, because of all the performances, especially young Grace, who anchors the story by providing sanity when all hell is literally breaking loose in the house. A shout out also needs to go to Michael Cimino (who shares his name with the famous late director), who plays Mary Ellen’s love interest and the Warrens’ neighbour, Bob. He needs to be in more movies. The film also has a strong sense of time, especially for someone (like me) who grew up in the early ’70s. I have most of the film’s songs on my phone’s playlist and there are great clips of some classic American TV shows of the time. I was laughing quite a bit while my fellow Hongkongers were probably wondering what the joke was.
ANNABELLE COMES HOME seems to be a fitting end to this franchise’s trilogy but you know this won’t be the last time we see that doll. My prediction is that the next trilogy will see Judy grown up and living in the 1980s. Her boyfriend/husband will be none other than Daniela’s kid brother, Tony Rios. Remember you read that here first!
Watch the review recorded on Facebook Live on Friday, July 12th at 8:30 am HK time!
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