Updated: Jan 11
4K ULTRA HD REVIEW / HDR FRAME SHOTS
Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson return as occult investigators Lorraine and Ed Warren in "Annabelle Comes Home." Father Gordon (Steve Coulter) performs a blessing in their home to keep haunted artifacts, such as Annabelle, from doing harm.
“ANNABELLE COMES HOME”
4K Ultra HD (digital), Blu-ray, Digital copy; 2019; R for horror violence and terror; streaming via Amazon Video/Prime, Apple (4K), FandangoNOW (4K), Google Play (4K), Vudu (4K), YouTube (4K)
Best extra: All good.
THAT EVIL doll Annabelle returns – just like Frankenstein and Dracula of yore! She might be down, but never conquered. First introduced in “The Conjuring” (2013) starring Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga as parapsychologists Ed and Lorraine Warren, this is her third stand-alone movie – and just in time for Halloween!
“We love the idea that [the Warrens] bring back souvenirs, if you will, from the cases they investigate, put them in [the artifact museum] and have a priest who regularly comes and blesses the room to keep it secure.” — Peter Safran, producer
Right. Conjuring fans know Annabelle is locked away in the Warren’s home. She’s released this time by Daniela Rios (Katie Sarife), damaged friend of the Warren’s sitter, Mary Ellen (Madison Iseman). Mary Ellen is there to care for 11-year-old Judy Warren, played by Mckenna Grace of “The Haunting of Hill House,” “Gifted,” and “Young Sheldon,” while her parents are away. Daniela has recently lost her father in an accident; she feels she’s to blame and longs to make contact with him. She doesn’t believe in the supernatural, but sneaks into the basement sanctuary hoping against hope to make some kind of connection.
And she does! Daniela frees Annabelle from her glass case and proceeds to touch each of the haunted objects. All of them become active under the doll’s influence to attack the girls as well as Bob Palmeri (Michael Cimino), the cute guy who has a crush on Mary Ellen. “Annabelle Comes Home” has the usual likable characters of the “Conjuring” universe. The suspense feels real and we want them to escape. Creepy creatures such as the Ferryman and Demon, a Bloody Bride and werewolf appear – all in physical form, no CGI. What a difference that makes.
Earlier artifacts return like the accordion monkey, the music box, and the samurai suit along with new devices based on the Warren’s extensive files. It’s the yard sale from Hell.
(1 & 2) A flashback shows how Ed and Lorraine first encountered the doll and brought her home. (3) Judy Warren (Mckenna Grace) is dropped off at school by her sitter, Mary Ellen (Madison Iseman), while Judy's parents are away on another paranormal sighting.
A machine types out Morse Code and an antique Remington typewriter send the same message from the afterlife, “Miss me?” Some items came from the Pasadena Flea Market; some were created. Ferryman coins seen on the eyes of photographed corpses show up; an old television scares by showing incidents a few seconds before they happen. Then there’s the easter egg – the key from “Aquaman” (2018). DC Comics movies and the Conjuring folks trade visual quips in their films.
“Everything you see in here is either haunted, cursed or has been used in some kind of ritualistic practice. Nothing’s a toy.” — Patrick Wilson as Ed Warren
“It’s the doll. It’s a beacon for other spirits.” — Vera Farmiga as Lorraine Warren
Ed and Lorraine also return for “Annabelle Comes Home” creating a nice continuity bridge. We “can’t really go into the Warren’s home without having the presence of Ed and Lorraine around,” says creator/producer/co-writer James Wan.
“Usually if there’s religion in horror movies, they just deal with the priest. I think that’s a real departure here, to have a very loving, devout couple that’s just unapologetic about faith.” — Patrick Wilson
(1) Daniela Rios (Katie Sarife), invites herself to the Warren's home. (2 & 3) She breaks into the Warren's Haunted Artifact room and releases Annabelle. (4) The spirit of Annabelle "Bee" Mullins appears at the Warren's home when the doll escapes. (5) Daniela and Mary Ellen find evidence of the Warren's investigations in their office. Note Ed's painting of the Perron house in Rhode Island from "The Conjuring."
Digitally filmed, “Annabelle Comes Home” is delivered on a 1080p physical disc, while Warner Brothers continues its exclusive The Conjuring Universe 4K Ultra HD release on digital platforms. "The Nun" released in 2018, is the rare exception receiving a 4K disc. Both formats have shifting aspect ratios between 1.85:1 for brief moments and the majority in super widescreen 2.39:1. Color is softly muted at times, sharing a similar palette with earlier “Conjuring” films established by John R. Leonetti, who also worked with Wan on his “Insidious” franchise.
Most of the action takes place at night, but maintains a warm HDR10 and Dolby Vision glow through various lighting choices in its early 1970s timeline. Shadows are a big part of the visual landscape, but detail remains excellent, as does depth and contrast. It’s great to get a closer look at the artifacts. Complexions look authentic on the living characters, but make sure to take in the art on creatures like the Ferryman and Demon. They are nicely crafted and memorably spooky. Wan and crew are great at designing new horror icons.
The “Conjuring” and “Annabelle” films have a exciting tradition of using an eight-channel Dolby Atmos track, perfect for distributing height and surround effects. Special effects are less subtle than found in “The Conjuring 2,” but nicely executed. Dialogue is cleanly placed front and center, fully balanced with effects and score by Joseph Bishara who has composed for the complete “Conjuring” universe as well as the “Insidious” films. Pop songs include “Dancing in the Moonlight,” “These Eyes,” “Band of Gold” and “Always There to Remind Me.” Range from bass to treble is quite satisfying.
The default track, Dolby TrueHD 7.1, is also very good.
(1) Judy tries not to be upset; none of her classmates will come to her birthday party because of her parent's calling. Mary Ellen says they'll have a party of their own. (2) Daniela investigates more items. (3 & 4) Judy, who shares her mother's gifts, sees Annabelle's shadow, which transforms into the demon that possesses the doll.
Warner Brothers provides four lively extras including seven deleted scenes. “Behind the Scenes” showcases the creatures, their design and the actors who play them: “The Ferryman/Demon,” with Alexander Ward; “The Bloody Bride,” with Natalia Safran, and “The Werewolf,” with Douglas Tait. Tait, who also played Jason Voorhees in the final scene of “Freddy vs. Jason” (2003) and boar-beast Gruagach in Neil Marshall’s “Hellboy” (2019), will return for “The Conjuring 3.” It’s based on another case of the Warren’s about a killer who claims to have been possessed by a werewolf. It’s due in 2020.
“The Artifact Room and the Occult” tours the captivating set pieces referencing how they were made. “The artifact room … is a really, really good representation of what the museum really looks like. It has the look and feel of the museum,” says Tony Spera, Ed and Lorraine Warren’s son-in-law, curator of The Warren Museum.
“The Light and the Love” has interviews with Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga. Depicting the continuing, relationship of Ed and Lorraine Warren. It's what sets the “Conjuring” movies apart from other horror films. “That’s what’s so appealing,” Farmiga says.
“I didn’t see the doll for many years. And then I became very, very frightened of it. My parents always told me don’t give it recognition, don’t look it in the eyes … and to this day I will not look it in the eyes, and I don’t think about it. [The filmmakers] keep making me think about it.” — Judy Spera, the Warren’s daughter, now an adult
Co-writer/director Gary Dauberman, who wrote “Annabelle” (2014), “Annabelle: Creation” (2017) and “The Nun” (2018), makes his director’s debut in “Annabelle Comes Home.” This is the eighth film in the “Conjuring” universe, with more to come. As for this “Annabelle,” think “Night of the Museum” but with monsters – a treat for the season and horror fans alike.
— Kay Reynolds
(1) The Bloody Bride takes possession of Daniela. (2) The dead, seen in a photo, return to life with the Ferryman's coins over their eyes. (3) Judy tries to protect herself and banish the demons. (4) Bob Palmeri (Michael Cimino) has a crush on Mary Ellen. He shows up at the Warren's to see her, and stays to help protect the girls. (5) Ed and Lorraine return home. They try to put a good face on Judy's party.
(1) Lorraine returns the photo of Daniela's father. (2) She comforts the girl with a message from her Dad from the afterlife.