While babysitting the daughter of Ed and Lorraine Warren, a teenager and her friend unknowingly awaken an evil spirit trapped in a doll.
Welcome To The Home Of The Conjuring Universe.
This film is exactly what I expected it to be. I have a real fondness for the Conjuring Universe though and by default that means I can’t hate on it too much.
We begin in the company of Lorraine and Ed Warren (Farmiga & Wilson), driving home after picking up pesky Annabelle, a doll prone to being a conduit for evil (same TBH). As I would imagine with every trip the couple took together, it ends with some spooky shit. When everything creepy starts happening at once, they realise they must lock her up and throw away the key. They place Annabelle in a holy glass cabinet, have her blessed by a priest and leave her to gather dust all her ownsome for all eternity. Or so they plan.
It’s the doll, Ed. It’s a beacon for other spirits.
When the Warrens go away for the weekend – don’t go! – they entrust their precious daughter Judy (McKenna) to sensible babysitter Mary Ellen (Madison Iseman). The pair plan to bake a cake for Judy’s upcoming birthday and enjoy being the most wholesome people on the street. Mary Ellen’s BFF Daniela (Katie Sarife) has other ideas however. Having heard about the Warrens and their supernatural antics, she decides to sneak into their dangerous oggly boggly artifacts room, where Annabelle also happens to reside…
Well, no prizes for guessing what follows, as all the evil nicely contained escapes into the house, causing havoc for our three ladies. Help is – kind of – on hand in the shape of lovesick Bob Palmeri (Michael Cimino), who lives on Judy’s street and has a massive crush on Mary Ellen. But all in all it’s a bad scene, man.
The thing is that there’s too much going on. There are some lovely effects and the film itself has a gorgeous vintage aesthetic but it’s very messy. I do enjoy the urban legend of The Ferryman but we have a haunted samurai, a werewolf and Annabelle’s ugly mug to contend with and its hard to keep up. Oh, there’s also a possessed wedding dress that causes anyone wearing it to become deadly violent, that’s kind of cool actually.
It really doesn’t have the oompf to carry it through and I hate the saccharine ending so much. ACH reads like a slightly more adult version of Goosebumps but nowhere near as charming. There’s also a very patronising smoke that announces the arrival of absolutely every spooky moment which kind of spoils it. Hope you like cheap thrills and jump scares, yo.
You need to give her a soul, dear. SHE WANTS A SOUL!
I do appreciate Daniela’s heartbreaking motivations (even though it’s all her stupid fault) – and there’s not one Noel Fielding sighting which I’m grateful for. It turns out, conversely, that I like The Nun more than I liked this which I’m surprised about. The setting was just more exciting and honestly, Judy gets on my tits. She’s just a bit wet for a Warren, though in fairness as she starts to display her own gift maybe she’ll shoulder her own spin off and that could be good. Who am I trying to kid? I wish I knew how to quit these movies!
You know what else is cool? This is a movie driven almost solely by three young women who don’t need anyone to rescue them. I should be ecstatic about that. I just wish Lorraine and Ed were around more.
Now to the million dollar question: when does the damn wind-up monkey get his standalone movie?