REVIEW: Annabelle 3 boasts great performances, but conjures few scares

After four Insidious films, two Conjuring incarnations, The Nun & La Llorona spin-offs, and three Annabelle flicks, it appears this once-terrifying universe has run out of ways to surprise us.

This haunted universe created by James Wan, the writer of the original Saw, began with Insidious in 2010, but nine years on, the scripts and lore just seem to get weaker.

Annabelle Comes Home, a prequel to the original Annabelle, is actually set after the second Annabelle film (itself a prequel to the original). Confused? Yeah, most of the audience is by this point too.

This flick is a by-the-book haunted house movie, and less than what we’d expect from these creators. While Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, talented actors and stars of the Conjuring flicks, channel real-life American paranormal investigators, the now-deceased Ed and Lorraine Warren, they’re given glorified cameos here.

This leaves the weight to rest mostly on the shoulders of 13-year-old Mckenna Grace, who is both adept and incredibly brilliant. Given her performances in Oscar hopeful I, Tonya and Gifted in 2017, and this horror credit, she’s on her way to becoming a star.

But performances aside, for all the real-life terrors they could have brought to life, Annabelle Comes Home is stale, and leaves this entire franchise in need of some serious life support.

With a weak, by-the-book script, a short run-time and very little in the way of real shocks or horrors, this isn’t much more than a psychological drama, which is not what any of us signed up for.

Writer-director Gary Dauberman was responsible for penning the original Annabelle as well as The Nun. But he was also one of the writers on the IT remake, which tells me he does have some talent.

Maybe the producers need to spend less time churning out films for money and more time crafting and preserving the reputation of this once-incredible horror canon.

But with the Nun 2 and the Conjuring 3 on the way in the next year or so, something tells me we’ll get much of a rehashed, lazy same.

2/5 Stars

 

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