Let’s see why teenagers are the worst.
The new Annabelle follows the Warren household after they take the evil doll away from those people first referenced in the first Conjuring film. Some time passes, and the Warrens are leaving their daughter Lucy (Mckenna Grace—who steals the show here and as young Theo in The Haunting of Hill House ) with her babysitter Mary Ellen (Madison Iseman) for a weekend getaway.
Let’s unpack that a little bit.
In what universe is leaving a child and a teenager alone in a house filled with demonic artifacts and stuff? Great parenting here.
The biggest problem (or one of the biggest) with this film is that too much of the narrative hinges on absolute stupidity. Aside from leaving children in the murder house, we also have to deal with the existence of Daniela (Katie Sarife) who might break the record for idiotic moves in a horror movie. Don’t go in here—goes, don’t touch—touches, don’t let Annabelle out of her damn case—you can see where this is going.
I think Daniela only existed in the writing room so we wouldn’t automatically hate Lucy or Mary Ellen—after all they aren’t at fault (even though it was so damn obvious what Daniela was planning).
So of course, Annabelle gets out, and moves around the house (but never moves!) and all kinds of haunted house type stuff happens. Unfortunately, none of it is scary. I feel that other entries in this universe have done a better job at creating a strong atmosphere and good tension (none have truly been scary), but this one can’t pull it off. The singular location for all of the scares could work, but something about it is just too predictable and too telegraphed to work well. We have the movements and scenes that resemble a frightening film, but there is no impact here.
A large part of it is that it becomes quite clear that none of our heroines are in any actual danger. Despite an R rating, this is a largely non-threatening encounter with evil. One it becomes clear that the ghosts seem more interesting in scaring these women than hurting them the tension (what little there is) drops through the floor.
A major mistake this film makes is burning through too much lore all at once. The artifact room of the Warren’s is a veritable treasure trove of possible spin-off films. Granted, The Nun was more or less a disaster, so maybe they are hesitant on that front. However, instead of trying harder it seems like they just wanted to throw everything into this one. Some of the most present items (the wedding dress and the samurai armor) are forced into this one, and it seems underdone. If we do have an eventual spinoff it will seem cheap after this (and will now be limited to the interpretation this film put on those items).
With so many different ghosts running around none of them get enough screen time to be memorable. We get a glimpse of the actual demon within Annabelle, who seems cool, but apparently preferred huffing paint or something for the first 95% of the film. Seriously, why didn’t the big bad just butcher the characters and unleash the evil out into society?
I don’t think anyone watching this movie expected a good film but wanting a fun one is reasonable. This one just didn’t work for me. I think we have gone too far with this popular horror films that seem to be produced in a factory setting. Two excellent characters in Lucy and Mary Ellen are worth seeing, but not in this movie. A shame, really, as their performances belong in a better film than this one.