Plot: After helping in yet another supernatural incident, Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) find themselves in possession of a demonic doll known as Annabelle. The two can sense the evil radiating from the doll, so with the help of a priest and some spiritual protections, the two seal the doll in a special case to ensure the evil can’t escape again. Annabelle’s new home is in the occult artifact room of the Warren’s home, a room filled with cursed objects, possessed trinkets, and other items with supernatural connections. When Ed and Lorraine leave their daughter Judy with some babysitters however, they leave explicit instructions not to even open the artifact room, let alone look around or interact with the objects. Of course, curiosity gets the better of one girl and after she is drawn to Annabelle’s case, she winds up letting the evil out of the holy prison. As the night rolls on, the girls will face one entity after another, each looking to claim a soul for Annabelle.
Entertainment Value: I looked forward to this Annabelle sequel for two main reasons, as Ed and Lorraine Warren were confirmed to return to The Conjuring series and the plot seemed to center on the occult artifact room. I love the artifact room and given how many eerie items lurk inside, I hoped Annabelle Comes Home would bring them to life in vivid, creepy fashion. As it turns out, both of those expectations were met, but in lesser ways I had hoped. Ed and Lorraine have brief appearances, but aren’t the center of the narrative in this one and while the artifact room is a prominent presence, only a few of the items are focused on. I kind of wanted a wild, supernatural free for all of sorts and instead, it was a small number of items emphasized. That still led to some fun moments and seeing some of the items put into action was quite cool, while giving Annabelle a nice supporting presence. But I didn’t love the focus on the babysitters and I think Ed and Lorraine would have carried this movie so much more, as this felt like a standard teen horror movie at times. I like those signature Warren moments and the artifacts were a nice inclusion, but it wasn’t the same without Ed and Lorraine battling the forces of evil in grand fashion. Even so, Annabelle Comes Home is a solid watch and for fans of the series of The Conjuring, is recommended.
As I said, the Warrens are around in this installment, but Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga have smaller roles here. I wouldn’t consider their presence a cameo, but their screen time is limited and they tend to serve a bookends of sorts, with the main story in between their appearances. I was let down by that, as I hoped they would be entwined in the narrative more, but it was fun to see them back in the roles and they make the most of their time in Annabelle Comes Home. Madison Iseman and Katie Sarife have the leads in this one and both perform well, but their work would be at home in any teen horror movie, so neither stands out. The two can convey fear well and deliver their lines in capable fashion, but there’s just a missing element from them, as if their characters are generic genre stand ins. But both scream like champs and do what little the material demands, which is enough in this case. The cast also includes Sade Katarina, Michael Patrick McGill, and Steve Coulter.
The Disc: Annabelle Comes Home looks excellent on Blu-ray, thanks to a tip top transfer from Warner Brothers. The image looks super clean and razor sharp, a marked improvement over the DVD version to be sure, with a crispness that yields some remarkable detail. The movie leans on darker often and those hold up well, with rich black levels and no loss of depth whatsoever. All of the subtle visual cues inside the artifact room for example, are crystal clear and it is fun to pause the movie and scan the room for missed details. No issues with colors here either, so the movie simply looks terrific in this presentation. The extras include three promotional featurettes, including one focused on the Warren’s incredible artifact room, as well as a selection of deleted scenes to peruse.