Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: ANNABELLE COMES HOME (no spoilers)

So ANNABELLE COMES HOME is the 7th film in The Conjuring Universe if you count The Curse Of La Llorona, right? Which I do, and if you don’t, and haven’t seen it yet, I suggest that you do as there is hard evidence of why it is considered part of this film series. And La Llorona, while not being that terrible, was still a big disappointment, trying too hard with cheap cliched jump scares that didn’t have any context or set up. Thankfully, the third Annabelle more than makes up for that stumble in the franchise road. Not only are the scares and frights earned, and not only are they all foreshadowed and set up meticulously, but all of the scares subvert your expectations. You think the spookiness is about to go down….here it comes….but then it doesn’t……but then much later it gets you when you least expect it! And the film is entertaining as hell too, a little fun house of horrors movie that is much better than they ones we’ve received over the past decade. And mark this down as the best Annabelle film so far too. So with the Conjuring Universe we are 4 for 7, and that ain’t bad.

But is this a perfect reverse trilogy you may ask? No, unfortunately it just misses that mark due to the first Annabelle film being the worst film of not only the three just pertaining to that doll, but the worst one of the whole Conjuring Universe. A perfect reverse trilogy is where all three films are somehow excellent and each one is better than the last. In this case it is just a reverse trilogy. The set up for this film is simple, at the beginning we finally get to see the Warren’s take custody of the doll from the two teenagers we were introduced to in the first Conjuring movie. One year later, they get a baby sitter (Madison Iseman) to look after their daughter (McKenna Grace) one night as they go to investigate another case. The baby sitters friend comes over (Katie Sarife) with secret intentions of her own and winds up in the Warren’s room filled with evil and haunted artifacts, and of course, let’s Annabelle out of her case. Let the fun begin!

And the movie is a boatload of fun. As you may now no Annabelle isn’t like Chucky or any of the little bastards from the Puppet Master franchise. She doesn’t talk, say one liners, or come after people with a knife (no matter how much I wanted her to). She is a conduit for other spirits, ghosts, demons, and evil entities to come out to try and get your soul. She does move around, but is more whisked to where she wants to go by unseen entities. So what is so cool about this movie is that it is less about her going around and killing people and collecting souls and more about her bringing other tales and folklore to life to do the bidding for her. I don’t want to spoil any of what those evil entities are, but I will say that after the movie was over, I was clamoring for a Conjuring Universe Hellhound movie. God I hope they end up making one.

And while the set up is simple, the writing here is definitely not lazy. While the Warrens are more of an extended cameo type appearance and just book end the film, it’s the three female protagonists that have to carry the movie. Each of them has their own arc to flesh them all out, the best one being the friend that comes over played by Katie Sarife. If the movie was just them running around the now haunted home and doll, while it would’ve probably still been fun, the movie definitely wouldn’t have been as effective narrative wise without the arcs. And the acting is top notch too. McKenna Grace, while still very young, proves she needs to be in more things to stretch her talent. Madison Iseman shows another side of her than just the bratty teenager in her brief appearance in Jumanji 2. But the stand out is Katie Sarife as the friend. The film mainly focuses on her and her story, and she acts the hell out of the situations she is put into. Very much looking forward to her acting career in the near future.

If you are a Conjuring Universe Aficionado, this is absolutely a must watch, as it is definitely the most entertaining and fun entry of the entire film franchise. The other universe films are, while still being somewhat entertaining and watchable, are more filled with darkness, dread, and despair, and not being what you’d call ‘fun.’ Emotionally draining is the correct term. Writer Gary Dauberman, this being his directorial debut as well, wrote all of the Annabelle films, and I can confidently say that he learned his lesson from the terrible first film, and is honing his craft. And it makes me look forward to IT Chapter 2, which he also wrote that comes out in just a few months. Annabelle Comes Home was a fantastic fun house of horrors film. Very solid, and one of the Conjuring Universe films I will probably end up revisiting over and over again.

My ranking of Conjuring Universe Films

  1. The Conjuring
  2. The Conjuring 2
  3. Annabelle Comes Home
  4. Annabelle Creation
  5. The Curse Of La Llorona
  6. The Nun
  7. Annabelle

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: THE CURSE OF LA LLORONA (no spoilers, and yes it is a Conjuring Universe film)

So they say that in early marketing of THE CURSE OF LA LLORONA that studio heads were trying to present it as a film on its own and not a part of The Conjuring Universe and that they wanted to save the reveal in the film that it actually is one a surprise. But then fans started to question whether this film was or not, especially when the poster released and it said “From The Producers OF The Conjuring Universe” and then a trailer came out that included a character that looked strikingly familiar and played by the same actor that showed up in the first Annabelle film. That was several months ago. When their goose was cooked, I don’t understand how they didn’t just go full monty on the marketing and let people know that yes, this is a part of The Conjuring Universe. They still tried to sell it as vague and they probably just missed out on a whole bunch of money, because on its own, this film is a dull mess, but within The Conjuring Universe…wait, well, yeah it is still a dull mess.

At least it isn’t as bad as The Nun or the first Annabelle film. This films problem is the screenplay and the non-stop cookie cutter cheap jump scares with absolutely no substance. If the film would’ve had some substance, it could’ve ranked high on my The C.U.F. list (that’s what I’m calling it instead of typing out everything for the umpteenth time). And the frustrating fact of this film is that it uses a good real premise, a real Mexican folklore, and has the opportunity to expand on that myth and spin it into a pretty sturdy C.U.F., but other than the mention of the actual lore and a couple of ways to keep evil demons and spirits away from your home, it doesn’t expand on shit. It’s as if the producers said, “ok, you got this great premise, get the story out of the way in the first 30 minutes and then just hit the audience with jump scare after jump scare until the end credits. That’ll make a great movie!” Well, it doesn’t.

And I think the director, Michael Chaves (who is going to direct The Conjuring 3), knew this, and at least tried to spice up the film with his own cinematic flavors. The movie contains really, really good camera work. Excellent style. Excellent long take shots. The film looks good. I guarantee you Chaves was looking at the screenplay, muttering “oh shit” into his head, and at least tried to figure out a way salvage what he could out of the dull story, dialogue and jump scares. It is saying something when I really don’t like a film but believe that the director would be better suited with a meatier screenplay, that’s why I think The Conjuring 3 will be in good hands, because that will not have the same screenwriters as this. While the Mexican folklore this film is based on is creepy and scary, the spirit/demon/entity haunting families and drowning kids in this looks silly, not scary, and not once was I scared or did any of the cheap jump scares actually made me jump. In the entire 3rd act of the film, instead of doing something different, we just get a home invasion type spirit, spooky spooky schlock we’ve seen 1,000 times before.

There is another positive of this movie, and that goes to actress Linda Cardellini (Velma from the live action Scooby Doo films from years past). Although her character is essentially another one dimensional mother that eventually believes her kids and that something supernatural is happening to their family, she makes what she can out of it. Her tears, frightened expression, and her trying to save shitty dialogue is what elevates this film from the mediocrity or shitty-ness of The Nun and Annabelle. Her kids were pretty good too. The person that doesn’t do a great job acting wise is Raymond Cruz, who plays an ex-priest in this. I don’t buy any of his fear or what he is saying in this, seems to be in it for the paycheck, which is a shame because you may know him for his excellent portrayal of Tuco Salamanca in Breaking Bad and a guest appearance on Better Call Saul.

Like I said before, this film isn’t terrible, it’s just dull and uninspiring. It has no substance, just telling you the Mexican folklore and quickly getting it out of the way so the movie can satisfy dumb ass millennials that buy into the whole cheap jump scare bait shit. It is unfortunately what sells. I’m curious to see how much bank this film makes when people living under a rock for some reason figure out they need to go see it because they’ve seen all of The C.U.F. and need to check it off their list. Anyway, you have this. But don’t fret, there is another C.U.F. before The Conjuring 3 next year: Annabelle Comes Home. And if they can somehow make it better than the far superior sequel to the first, Annabelle: Creation, then we are in for a huge treat, maybe. I mean The Warrens are featured in it, how bad could it be…right?

My Opinion Rank of The C.U.F.:

  1. The Conjuring
  2. The Conjuring 2
  3. Annabelle: Creation
  4. The Curse of La Llorona
  5. The Nun
  6. Annabelle