The legends behind the artifacts of 'annabelle comes home'

Annabelle, the devil doll who is not possessed (got it?), presides over a hyper grab bag of a haunted-house thriller that fails lớn conjure much fear.

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In a country that should probably think about renaming itself the American Entertainment State, fan hâm mộ culture now produces an obsessive cấp độ of pop scholasticism, one that can parse the rules & details of movies & TV shows as if they were fine points of law. In a review of a horror movie, I once called a character a zombie who was not, technically, a zombie (he didn’t have the precise credentials to lớn be classified as the living dead), and tons of readers called me out on it. I learned my lesson, even though a stubborn part of me still thinks, “If it walks lượt thích a zombie, và talks lượt thích a zombie…”

There’s a comparable bit of pesky Talmudic niggling woven into the premise of the “Annabelle” films, of which “Annabelle Comes Home” is the third, and maybe the most hyper và generic. Annabelle is one of those creepy Victorian dolls that has been a staple of horror films for decades. In her bangs & red-bowed pigtails, with a sallow face marked by sunken but popping eyes, bloody scratches, và a ripe smile, she bears a marked resemblance lớn the ventriloquist dummy in the 1978 Anthony Hopkins psycho thriller “Magic.” That fixed grin of hers promises a great giảm giá of mischief, and “Annabelle Comes Home,” in its almost completely haphazard và what-the-hell-let’s-go-to-hell way, delivers it.

If this movie had been made several decades ago, Annabelle would likely have been a female Chucky, a demon figurine wreaking violent havoc. But the film’s annoyingly arcane premise demands that the audience understand that Annabelle is not, herself, possessed. No way! “The doll was never possessed,” a character declares. “It was used as a conduit!” What this means is that Annabelle, even though she’s portrayed as a dark and dangerous devil doll, isn’t coming khổng lồ life. She’s channeling the spirits around her, acting as a lightning rod for evil. Do you get the distinction? I actually think I do. Vì chưng you care? I think I couldn’t care less.

The grand result of all this cheesy metaphysical heavy lifting is that “Annabelle Comes Home” is a relentless but awkward throw-everything-at-the-viewer occult thriller that mixes ghosts, looming spirits, and — yes — inanimate objects coming khổng lồ life, with the figure of Annabelle not so much at the scary center of the kích hoạt as existing alongside it. She’s the conduit, all right, and the mascot, and the source of all the trouble. But mostly she’s the film’s emblem, the hood ornament of its Amityville 3.0 brand, và if you take her out of the equation, which isn’t hard to vì chưng (since, conduit qualities aside, she’s barely in the equation), you’re left with one more địa chỉ mashup of a haunted-house thriller và “The Exorcist,” which is the anything-goes formula of the “Conjuring” films. These are “religious” horror movies for people who would channel surf through the Devil himself.

The “Annabelle” films are prequels spun off from the “Conjuring” universe, & the first sure sign that they were second tier is that Patrick Wilson & Vera Farmiga, as the fretfully eager true-life Christian devil busters Ed and Lorraine Warren, didn’t even make an appearance in the first two movies. But they’re on hand to set up “Annabelle Comes Home,” a haunted-house thriller that takes place almost entirely in their roomy dark-shadowed suburban home, which is done up in conflicting patterns of floral wallpaper and a muted rainbow of gloomy autumnal ’70s colors.

Ed, who’s played by Wilson as the Pat Boone of exorcists, và Lorraine, embodied by Farmiga with a righteous tenderness, have been at their paranormal investigations for a while now, & are generating some headlines. They’ve got a room in their trang chủ stuffed with all the occult artifacts they’ve gathered from their adventures. It’s lượt thích a museum of ghoulish bric-a-brac, and though it’s right there on the ground floor, in what might have been a sprawling extra bedroom, it functions in the film like the basement you’re not supposed to go into.

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Its centerpiece is the case of sacred glass, taken from a church, in which Annabelle resides. She’s locked up in there so that she can’t bởi vì her mischief. But on a night when the Warrens’ 10-year daughter, Judy (McKenna Grace), is at home with her two high-school babysitters, the saintly blonde Marcia Brady-like Mary Ellen (Madison Iseman) và the sneaky dark Nancy-Allen-in-“Carrie”-like Daniela (Katie Sarife), all hell breaks loose. That’s because Daniela, fixated on the growing legend of the Warrens, can’t resist going into the ghost museum and poking around. And, of course, just about the first thing she does is lớn unlock Annabelle’s case. Beware, the conduit is loose!

The Warren trang chủ looks lượt thích the sort of place where you want to sit back và watch bad TV, which the characters in this movie periodically do. But then the scary stuff happens, and in its rambunctious spirit-world way it’s lượt thích more bad TV. Directing his first feature, Gary Dauberman, the screenwriter of the first two “Annabelle” films as well as “The Nun,” knows how khổng lồ squeeze a few drops of anticipatory sweat out of the audience. He makes clever atmospheric use of Badfinger’s 1971 hit “Day After Day,” especially in a moment when he extends the song’s piano motif, over và over, turning it into a have-a-nice-day version of “Tubular Bells.” But there’s a paradox to his skill: The nhái scares in “Annabelle Comes Home” are scarier than the real scares. That’s because when it comes to what should be the film’s heart of darkness, there’s no there there.

A snarling horned devil. A werewolf out of “The Howling.” A white-haired priest who turns into one of those ghosts who will stare at you from across the street, lượt thích a specter out of “Insidious” or “Hereditary.” A typewriter typing “Miss me Miss me.” Gengis Khan’s armor springing khổng lồ life. (But then why can’t Annabelle come lớn life? Oh, never mind.) Name your fear trigger, and it’s probably there, somewhere, in “Annabelle Comes Home.” It looks lượt thích a horror film, but it’s really the horror equivalent of tốc độ dating.

Film Review: ‘Annabelle Comes Home’

Reviewed at AMC 34th St., New York, June 20, 2018. MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 106 MIN.

Production:A Warner Bros. Pictures release of a New Line Cinema, Atomic boss Productions, RatPac-Dune Entertainment, The Safran Company production. Producers: James Wan, Peter Safran. Executive producers: Michael Clear, Michelle Morrissey.Crew:Director, screenplay: Gary Dauberman. Camera (color, widescreen): Michael Burgess. Editor: Kirk Morri. Music: Joseph Bishara.With:Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, McKenna Grace, Madison Iseman, Katie Sarife, Stephen Blackehart, Steve Coulter, Samara Lee, Paul Dean. Music By: