‘Annabelle Comes Home’ is Not a Creepy Doll Classic
It is a fact that there are only three good Creepy Doll Movies. The first isn’t actually a Creepy Doll Movie, per se; it’s the original version of Poltergeist, and while it only has one Creepy Doll scene, it’s one for the ages, because of course the Creepy Doll is a Scary Clown Doll. The second is The One Where The Voodoo Doll Comes To Life And Tries To Kill Karen Black. Here’s the whole sequence.
If you are a Gen X’er, you saw this movie as a child. It fucked you up for life, but you don’t actually know its name. Well it’s called Trilogy of Terror, and it was actually a made-for-TV movie that originally aired on ABC. Still thinking about that closing shot of toothy Karen Black? Here’s a palate cleanser. Gotcha! That’s the third Creepy Doll Movie, and to be honest, the teaser is much scarier than the actual movie. Still, that doll is pure nightmare fuel.
If you have a hankering for a Creepy Doll Movie, these are the salad days. There’s a new version of Chucky, another Toy Story movie, and three to possibly six Annabelle movies. The Annabelle movies are a part of The Conjuring Universe. I honestly don’t know what counts as an Annabelle Movie, so I had to Google “Conjuring Universe”. The Wikipedia entry gave me a headache.
ANNABELLE COMES HOME ★ (1/5 stars)
Directed by: Gary Dauberman
Written by: Gary Dauberman, James Wan
Starring: McKenna Grace, Madison Iseman, Katie Sarife
Running time: 106 min
This new one, Annabelle Comes Home, is a part of that Universe, and if you’ve not seen any of the other movies in this series, you’ll be a bit confused going in. Specifically, you will be wondering why it is that Professional Exorcists Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson, after acquiring the titular haunted doll, decide to store it in their house in a glass case. On the one hand, the glass case has been blessed, so Annabelle can’t get out by herself, because of God or Jesus or some such. On the other, the Professional Exorcists have a young daughter with psychic abilities, who they leave alone with the babysitter and her occult-obsessed friend. And they stash Annabelle’s glass case in a locked basement with a bunch of other evil/possessed/cursed artifacts. You don’t need to be Anton Chekhov to guess what happens next.
Look: I can tell you that the movie isn’t all that scary. It’s the cinematic equivalent of an amusement park haunted house–decent set design, eerie music that lets you know that there’s about to be a jump scare, and then a jump scare. Annabelle Comes Home is pretty much all jump scares, actually. But they haven’t aimed this Annabelle movie, and I assume all of the movies that make up the Conjurverse, at me. They’re strictly teenager fare, good for a date night, good for a few shrieks, no lingering disturbing imagery. As for the doll itself, Annabelle’s biggest problem is that she fails to pass the basic Creepy Doll requirement. The creepiest dolls don’t look like someone tried to make them creepy. You want to see something scary? Go look at one of those American Girl dolls. Now imagine that thing staring at you while you sleep.