Like a cabin in the woods filled with a basement of evil paranormal beasties, this latest edition to The Conjuring universe features good ol’ 70s style babysitter shenanigans along with fresh new souls to welcome the return as, Annabelle Comes Home.
First time director, Gary Dauberman, is no stranger to the franchise having been screenwritter for Annabelle (2014), Annabelle: Creation (2017), and The Nun (2018) as well as the co-writer for the remake of Stephen King’s It (2017) and its upcoming sequel It Chapter Two (2019).
Annabelle Comes Home keeps audiences on the edge of their seats with an awesome sound design, some nice fake outs, creepy reveals, great gimmicks – providing you can look past a continuity error when one of the game pieces suddenly changes colour from red to green.
Taking place within the universe of The Conjuring, The Curse of the Weeping Woman (or The Curse of La Llorona internationally) is the first feature
length work from director Michael Chaves. With strong casting choices
throughout, what would be an otherwise typical film for the genre was
transformed into a well-balanced, well-paced and thoroughly enjoyable experience.
Based upon the Mexican folk story ‘La
Llorona’, or The Weeping Woman, who drowned her two sons in an act of revenge
when jilted by her husband for a younger bride, La Llorona (Marisol Ramirez)
was cursed to roam the Earth searching for children to replace those she lost.
It is said that there is no escape from her once you hear her weeping and feel
her tears against your skin.
Thus we find Anna (Linda Cardellini), a
case worker and single mother to two children following the death of her
husband, when Patricia (played by Patricia Velasquez who was Anck-Su-Namun in The Mummy Franchise… The Brendan Fraser Mummy Franchise… The good one) curses
Cardellini’s children to be the next in La Llorona’s sights, leading her kids
to get the fright of their short lives in a great little car sequence. Strong
performances by Chris (Roman Christou) and his sister Sam (Jaynee-Lynne
Kinchen) who deliver noteworthy scenes throughout the film.
Many innovative effects make an appearance
with a fun sequence near the pool involving an umbrella, using simple masking
techniques that would make Georges Méliès proud, but in the critical eye of our
4k resolution era may come off a little cheesy, yet I find myself applauding
the filmmakers for allowing creative risks to be taken. Another moment that
stays with you is an eerie bathroom scene will see you bathing using the buddy
The pace of the film takes a turn when Anna
seeks out the assistance of former priest Rafael Olvera (Raymond Cruz) who
completely steals the show with his dry wit and deadpan delivery that make you
want to come back for more.
With cinematography by Hollywood royalty Michael
Burgess and James Wan in the producer’s seat you know you’re in for a good
time. Paying homage to recurring themes within the universe to connect stories
in a way that can only advance its reach while at the same time terrifying
Not quite scary enough to provoke cardiac
arrest but enjoyable, particularly with a deadpan dose of Raymond Cruz.
Surgeon Richard Lovegrove & Anesthesiologist Kelsi Williams
As I write this review The Nun has just broken records by pushing The Conjuring franchise into the no.1 spot for horror movies.
James Wan’s original vision continues to develop and grow beyond its initial premise to scare and delight the masses.
Some clever marketing was behind The Nun’s box office appeal, enticing audiences with the promise to scare and chill to the bone came from its trailer, (essentially one big jump scare) but when you lift back the veil and look beyond the smoke and mirrors, does the film really deserve the hype that it generated?
To Wan’s credit his style has been present throughout all the movies and the production company have often given up and coming or promising directors to weave their magic for a wider audience.
This is why I was quietly interested in seeing how The Nun would fair as director Corin Hardy had been passed the torch to continue flaming the fires of horror.
His debut feature The Hallow, which didn’t exactly ignite the cinematic world, did show promise in a world saturated through pain and sorrow infused with folk mythology. With those ingredients, The Nun looked like it was in capable hands.
Instead we were provided with a series of jump scares knitted together with an incredibly loose plot. Sure, there was plenty of backstory to Valak the Nun, and how that entity was inflicted onto the world, but beyond that it was like watching blood dry on the walls. Moments of congealing perhaps, but still just the same blood and the same wall. At least with Annabelle: Creation (another origin story from the same universe) there were some clever uses of cinematography and effects that tricked the eye and allowed to entertain as a result. The Nun offered nothing and was a huge let down as a result.
If it did have a redeeming feature, it was that the three leads, Taissa Farmiga, Demián Bichir, and Jonas Bloquet were actually pretty decent in their respective roles despite having little to play with. Having said that, it was a little confusing to see Taissa Farmiga, sister to Vera who plays Lorraine Warren in The Conjuring movies, as quite naturally they share similar features and it left you wondering the inherent purpose behind that choice. For me it was distracting but more from the ending of the movie than the main bulk of the film.
A paint-by-numbers horror movie that relied on jump scares and lack of inventiveness. Too often the direction relied on obvious tricks of the trade whilst it tried to weave in a decent backstory to Valak, who was far from sinister or scary compared to her introduction in The Conjuring 2. The success of this movie will mean that a sequel will be in the works, let’s just hope they allow the demonic nun the chance to really let loose. – Saul Muerte