Directed by Gary Dauberman
Starring: Mckenna Grace, Madison Iseman, Katie Sarife, Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga
Runtime: 110 Minutes
This week we get back into the horror genre. I haven’t watched many horror films besides the classic Dawn of the Dead at home since my overnight trip to Waverly Hills Sanitorium. I was anxious to see if I would look at films differently, after what was experienced that night. The Annabelle films are based in The Conjuring universe. This is the seventh film and is a direct sequel to Annabelle that came out in 2014. (A prequel was also released in 2017 following the doll.) The films in this universe have been hit or miss. The last one I remember seeing was The Nun and I wasn’t a fan. I had lower expectations, but Toy Story 4 did KNOCK IT OUT OF THE PARK last week.
Onto the film.
We open with Ed Warren (Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Farmiga) discussing spirits and possessions. This was a nice intro with them taking Annabelle and explaining to the girls (and audience) information about paranormal activity. I felt that if I was new to any of this, it caught me up and fast. The Warrens venture off with Annabelle to their home. The cliché horror tropes begin. Car breaks down. Of course, Ed goes out to check under the hood. I immediately thought of myself in that situation. We would be in trouble. BIG TROUBLE. Luckily the car was just being stalled by Annabelle, and nothing drastic happened besides a few scares.
We get Annabelle to her final “resting place” a locked glass box made from sacred glass from a church which is then blessed. All is good…for now. I will mention their room of artifacts. It’s a real place/museum and they have countless items that remind me of my boss Brian Listerman’s office (He’s today’s version of Indiana Jones). We learn that this room is blessed weekly and the intro title appears. The music is ominous, and the credits have a retro horror feel that was appreciated.
One year later.
We meet the Warren’s daughter, Judy (Grace) and her babysitter Mary Ellen (Iseman). Judy’s about to turn 11 and it’s apparent she is being picked on because of her parents. The most recent newspaper headline reads, “Heroes or Hoaxes.” The Warrens are going out of town and Mary Ellen will be babysitting overnight. The clichés begin to pile up again. We meet Mary Ellen’s friend Daniela (Sarife) and the boy she’s crushing on Bob (Palmeri). Daniela promises to not come over when Mary Ellen is babysitting. She does. She promises to not go into the locked room and to watch the cake. She goes in the room…the cake burns. Without giving anymore away Annabelle gets out. Then havoc begins.
At this point in the film, it dawned on me there wasn’t much of a plot. All the cast shines in their respective roles and it was nice to see the three female leads hold their own but there just wasn’t much for them to do. Walk in a room. Get scared. Rinse and repeat. I will say there is a clever scene regarding a pizza delivery guy giving Bob advice. The way to woo a woman is through “Rock and Roll” If you take anything from this review, take that.
Throughout the film there are several monsters and beings that came off rather disturbing. It wasn’t Waverly Hills Sanitorium scary but there were a few good jump scares. I felt like this film was almost setting up future films. We hear a backstory about a certain demon, and then see it. I appreciate the universe trying to branch out more, but I just wish the same effort would have been used on the film in front of us. In the “final” act all the horror is amped up. The monsters alluded to, we get to see in action, and I felt that the leads didn’t get a break from the madness. Thankfully Bob didn’t pull out an air horn for a final scare like someone did weeks ago, but the scares were there.
There could have been a good film here. The leads all played their parts well, and especially Judy (Grace), she came off as the strongest of the group and that surprised me. We witnessed a few scenes for humor and a few jump scares. I just wish there was more of a plot in place. That thought and the cliché tropes stuck with me and hurt the overall experience. You could do much worse on this week’s movie, but I suggest going to see Toy Story 4 again or get a sneak peek of Spider-man. Next week’s review. 2 stars out of 5 #SHOPLOCAL
Andrew McManus is Operations Manager for Patties & Pints and its parent company Eflow Development.He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 740-981-9158