The Conjuringverse Goes Teen Horror

Gary Dauberman’s Annabelle Comes Home sees the possessed doll wreak havoc inside the home of the Warrens, the famous paranormal investigators from the Conjuring movies. This time their young daughter and a couple teen girls tangle with demonic terror, as the haunted objects inside the couple’s home are unleashed.

Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson return as the Warrens in this latest chapter of the Annabelle franchise, though this sequel is more about their young daughter Judy (McKenna Grace) and her teen babysitter Mary Ellen (Madison Iseman). The young leads give satisfying performances that fit the franchise’s legacy.

…throws in everything but the kitchen sink, expanding on the engaging horror formula established in prior Conjuring movies

The diabolically possessed doll Annabelle is safely locked away in the infamous artifacts room behind glass, inside the house of Ed and Lorraine Warren, the notorious demonologists and investigators of the paranormal. That all changes one night when the doll is accidentally unleashed with the couple gone, turning a peaceful night into an unholy reign of terror for their 10-year-old daughter’s teen babysitter and her friend Daniela (Katie Sarife).

What follows is an uncomplicated and straightforward supernatural thriller with teen protagonists. Annabelle Comes Home throws in everything but the kitchen sink, expanding on the engaging horror formula established in prior Conjuring movies.

Dauberman includes a few nods to spooky things seen in previous movies from the franchise, including the haunted samurai armor and the Bloody Bride. The girls are haunted by several fantastically designed creatures, including a fearsome-looking devil.

Somewhat out of step with the tone established in prior Annabelle and Conjuring movies, a ridiculous werewolf cameo is included and quickly made a punchline in one of the film’s lighter moments. Dauberman reaches deep into his horror grab bag when throwing frights at his young protagonists.

If there are any disappointments, Annabelle almost feels like an afterthought in her own movie. Avoiding any comparisons with Chucky, the other famously possessed doll in horror, Annabelle’s wicked grin has to make up for her lack of speech. Dauberman clearly has more fun writing the other creatures in Annabelle Comes Home than the titular doll.

Nicely set with period touches from the 1970s, there’s a softer nostalgic and retro vibe to this terrifying outing. The mostly effective set pieces are constructed around various haunted and possessed objects found in the Warrens’ artifacts room.

The R-rating is somewhat misleading for audiences – this is not as graphically frightening or viscerally scary as fellow Conjuring films like The Nun. A few small cuts could have very easily turned this into a PG-13 adventure. Annabelle Comes Homes is less moody and doesn’t care quite as much about cheap jump scares. Most of the action is reserved for a stuffed final act as the teens are placed in danger.

Annabelle Comes Home is a pleasing popcorn thriller that trots out the kids-in-peril formula to good effect. The movie is well cast, has ties to a strong horror franchise, and mostly delivers on an array of visually impressive frights. Made for mainstream horror audiences, the movie is fun viewing for the upcoming Halloween.

Video

Annabelle Comes Home has a decided retro aesthetic that touches all aspects of the production design, including the cinematography. Unlike some horror franchises, The Conjuring and its spin-offs have embraced fairly vibrant, if moody in tone, image quality.

Shot by director of photography Michael Burgess (The Curse of La Llorona), Annabelle Comes Home importantly has no issues with black levels and mostly offers pleasing definition. Some limited noise is evident in the darkest moments. Overall, the video quality isn’t quite reference level but has some nice moments.

The main feature runs 106 minutes, encoded in adequate AVC on a BD-50. Warner provides a competent encode mostly free of compression artifacts. The 2.40:1 presentation has excellent detail and consistently superior clarity. The 1080P video exudes nice depth and dimensionality. It’s mildly softer than most newer Hollywood productions, maintaining normal contrast.

Audio

The Conjuring series always have first-rate soundtracks. Annabelle Comes Home continues that tradition with strongly atmospheric Dolby Atmos audio that picks its spots in the film for maximum enjoyment. Fluidly panning across the soundstage, any number of the film’s scariest scenes have vivid audio cues and delightfully haunting immersion.

The discrete mix tightly integrates center-focused dialogue with nicely-mastered music, including a few songs from acts such as Badfinger and the Guess Who. The music is by Joseph Bishara, composer from the main Conjuring films. It’s a smooth sonic ride with thick low-end when needed and well-designed audio placement.

Secondary audio options include 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtracks in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese. Subtitle options include English SDH, French, Spanish, and Portuguese, all playing in a white font inside the scope presentation.

Extras

Warner’s Blu-ray and DVD combo package arrives with a cardboard slipcover. After issuing The Nun on UHD, the studio has sadly skipped the format for Annabelle Comes Home.

The included digital copy redeems in HDX on Movies Anywhere, granting rights on services such as VUDU and FandangoNow.

Featurettes and deleted scenes comprise the special features. Participants include director Gary Dauberman, producer James Wan, Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson. Curiously, trailers for the movie itself are absent. Fairly superficial analysis and interviews, but everyone seems fully invested during the special features.

Deleted Scenes (11:28 in HD) – Seven deleted scenes in all, including one labeled as an alternative ending. This alternate ending is better and more intense than what was included in the final cut.

The Artifact Room and the Occult (05:07 in HD) – Director Gary Dauberman and the production designer briefly go over a few of the occult items that receive more focus in this sequel, including the tiny accordion-playing monkey toy and haunted samurai armor.

The Light and the Love (04:26 in HD) – Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson discuss the healthy relationship between their characters, Ed and Lorraine Warren, which shines through their investigations into the paranormal darkness.

Behind the Scenes: The Ferryman/Demon (05:18 in HD) – A featurette with the actor behind these characters.

Behind the Scenes: The Bloody Bride (02:57 in HD)

Behind the Scenes: The Werewolf (03:07 in HD)

WB Trailers (All in HD) – Trailers for Doctor Sleep and IT: Chapter Two play before the main menu. Then a promo for the UHD format plays.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Annabelle Comes Home
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
4

Movie

The latest Annabelle sequel is competently enjoyable popcorn horror made for the masses with obvious nods to prior Conjuring movies.

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