“The Warrens are back and with them the ghosts, ghouls and demonic creatures that go bump in the night.”

Words Sarah Kidd

The ever-expanding Conjuring universe is back with their third instalment in the Annabelle series which continues on the story of the demonic doll with a face even a mother couldn’t love.

Entitled Annabelle Comes Home it is the directorial debut of screenwriter and producer Gary Dauberman who not only wrote the Annabelle series but also shares co-writing credits on The Nun along with The Conjuring director James Wan; Dauberman managing to somewhat redeem the Annabelle series with this chapter which is certainly a step above the rather lacklustre first two.

Arguably a lot of the success of the movies that kickstarted it all, The Conjuring and The Conjuring 2 comes down to the on-screen chemistry between Ed and Lorraine Warren played by Patrick Wilson and the fabulous Vera Farmiga, but sadly while both actors do make an appearance, their screen time is limited to bookending the film, the story itself focussing in on their daughter Judy Warren who soon reveals that she too has her mother’s gifts. Regardless, The Warrens are back and with them the ghosts, ghouls and demonic creatures that go bump in the night.

Centred predominantly in The Warrens house the film sets the tone nicely; the 1960’s aesthetics paid particular attention through the décor, clothing and music, the audience given a chance to familiarise themselves with the teenage characters before the film homes in on the Warrens heavily locked artefact room which contains a plethora of haunted objects just itching to break loose and wreak havoc. There Annabelle patiently waits for the inevitable foolish teenage decision that will literally make the audience groan out loud while simultaneously granting Annabelle her much sought-after freedom.

Cue almost maddening creaking doors, creepy reflections, multiple quick-fire jump scares that are a tad repetitive of previous films and all too brief introductions to other spirits such as The Black Shuck who are undoubtedly there only to create the framework for yet another round of spin-offs. Seasoned horror fans might find themselves a little disappointed with the predictability of it all, however there are some stand out scenes well worth watching out for, such as Annabelle’s evolving shadow and the possessed television projecting horrific visions of the future; small details for those really paying attention bringing about fleeting moments of satisfaction.

The young cast are very watchable, Mckenna Grace (Captain Marvel) impressing as Judy Warren despite being given one of the clunkiest lines of dialogue towards the end of the film that will make eyes collectively roll; both Madison Iseman (Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle) and Katie Sarife (Supernatural) as Mary Ellen the babysitter and her best friend Daniela playing their parts well without ever toppling over into the dramatically absurd. All three injecting a healthy amount of humour into many of their scenes.

While not bringing anything particularly new to the table when it comes to the horror genre, Annabelle Comes Home is still an entertaining watch that may prompt the curious to look into the real-life Annabelle doll that the film is loosely based on. Because that really is terrifying…