Rated R, but I kind of think that it could have pulled off the coveted horror PG-13. It's probably the demonic stuff coupled with the fact that we see someone get stabbed on camera. Mind you, the stabbing is a hallucination and there's no actual physical trauma from this event. Still, it doesn't change the fact that you see that. Most of the movie is spooky. The more I think about it, no one actually dies in the movie. Regardless, R.
DIRECTOR: Gary Dauberman
I need to throw my phone away. I just finished watching Annabelle Comes Home about an hour ago, but between my emotional exhaustion coupled with my physical exhaustion, I just have this overwhelming urge not to write about this movie. It took me three days to watch it. Heck, the only reason I really watched it was because I realized I hadn't after I watched The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It. I was filling out the Collections page and saw that there was a Conjuring movie that I hadn't seen. That's probably not a good reason to watch a movie like this, but it was good enough for me. Heck, I might continue down this obsession with completion and watch the rest of the Saw movies, and I really don't even enjoy those.
Do you remember that moment in Ghostbusters when Walter Peck and the EPA (still the only movie I can think of where the EPA are the bad guys) open the containment system and let all the ghosts out into New York? It's this moment that I'm going to say could have been expounded upon. I mean, Ghostbusters is nearly perfectly paced, so I'm going to take that back. But the nerd in the back of my brain really wanted to look upon that apocalyptic moment in greater detail. Enter Annabelle Comes Home. Annabelle Comes Home makes its foundation upon this moment. The Conjuring franchise up to this point has been teasing the idea that the Warren's artifact room is one of the scariest places on the planet. The worst of the worst stuff is in there. If all of those things escaped, it would be Hell on Earth. It's like Superman getting stuck in the Phantom Zone. It's no good. And giving credit to the Conjuring folks, they really set it up to be this Avengers: Endgame style movie. The only problem...is that it really didn't take advantage of this moment.
The movie starts with Ed and Lorraine Warren. Considering that this movie was called Annabelle Comes Home, I thought that this was the gutsiest move ever. I mean, Annabelle: Creation teased the notion that we were going to see the Warrens go head-to-head with the darkest item in their collection and the movie started really cementing the notion that our supernatural hunters were going to go against the most infamous item in the set. But considering that they got Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga to come back and play their most famous roles, it's absolutely bizarre that they pitted the B-team against Annabelle. I mean, wasn't this supposed to be the knock-down, drag-out fight of the ages? Instead, we have a little kid and two teenagers try to take on these epic villains.
And it is because of all of the spooky-scaries that are in the house that the movie does what Aliens did. (I really need to rewatch Aliens just so I can write about it and probably apologize for how many times I cite this movie as an example of nerfing.) While all of the scares are actually pretty cool, the oogie-boogies seem fairly incompetent when it actually comes to causing damage. Despite the fact that this movie is the third Annabelle movie (and that it should have been called The Conjuring III: Annabelle Comes Home), the MVP award really goes to the Ferryman for most effective ghostie. The rest of the stuff was run of the mill. But the Ferryman *does that Italian good food kiss thing with his fingers*. But even the Ferryman does nothing but evoke screams. Now, we have to imagine that when the Warrens captured all of these bad guys, it was a heck of a fight. I mean, I saw the other Conjuring movies. It took two hours to really nail down these guys and there were all kinds of casualties. Why can their kid, who seems pretty terrified of the things she is seeing, coupled with a babysitter and an irresponsible girl who caused all of these problems hold their own against these monsters? I mean, Mary Ellen was grabbed by a dead evil version of herself and walked away just fine. That is the definition of "nerfed", right?
I really think that Annabelle Comes Home was probably forced to do some reshoots. I say this because Daniela's character is all over the place. Listen, I had a decent time with this movie. It was better than The Devil Made Me Do It. But didn't anyone else notice that Daniela's intentions seemed absurd. Daniela in the first act is the ultimate agent of chaos. Disrespecting the world of The Conjuring, Daniela comes across like a party girl. She sees the opportunity for fun in a small town and has access to this powder keg through her friend Mary Ellen. There's nothing sympathetic about her character in the first act. If anything, she comes across as a straight up antagonist. She's the foolhearty camp counselor who let Jason Voorhees swim alone. She ignored every warning and the events of the film are a punishment for her misdeeds. Heck, this character maintains this razor focused attitude of having a good time with possessed items until after the inciting incident happens. Daniela goes from good time party girl to guilt-ridden woman trying to find redemption for accidentally killing her father. I get that it could have been a mislead, but it doesn't account for Daniella's behavior in the entire first act. This burn-the-world attitude that she has in the grocery store doesn't make sense. Trying to get into the Warren's artifact room shows more persistence than desperation. Once that room is open, Daniela implies that she needed to get in there. It is her only chance to contact the beyond.
I mean, it's smart to make Daniela a sympathetic character. But I also feel like it is the same thing that happened to Elsa in Frozen. As much as Judy is the main character and Mary Ellen is supposed to be the final girl, there's something far more interesting about Daniela. Mary Ellen kind of comes across as a spectator to these events. She's a sweet girl who deserves to live because she follows all of the social rules that we need her to observe. Judy is interesting, but it is really hard to make a kid the interesting protagonist when there are characters that are older than her. She definitely has a vibe of a little kid in a Jurassic Park movie. They're interesting, but not captivating. They're there to up the threat level, despite the fact that kids don't often die in horror movies. So make her a sympathetic character. But maybe do so...in the script? Yeah, I'm Monday Morning Quarterbacking right now, but there is this very disjointed feeling about deciding who the most interesting character in the movie is.
But I'm going to finish up this shorter blog with the message: Why wasn't this a Conjuring sequel, straight up instead of a spin-off? As much as the Annabelle movies get a modicum of attention, they are always the spin-off films. If Ed and Lorraine were the protagonists of the piece, facing off against the Thanos of their universe, Annabelle, that was what audiences were waiting for. But the movie couldn't wait to get Ed and Lorraine out of there. The promise was broken and everything got way too nerfed for any real stakes to be in the film. Sure, if this movie did better, we'd be looking at a Ferryman spin-off film or something. But I'd rather see the royal rumble that this movie should have been. It wasn't really Hell on Earth, was it? It was more like Thirteen Ghosts or a Scooby-Doo special rather than actually being a cohesive Sinister Six movie or something.
Oh man, a Sinister Six movie isn't going to be great. (I'm hoping one would be great.)
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.