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'Annabelle Comes Home' delivers jump scares and fleeting frights

MCKENNA GRACE as Judy Warren with the Annabelle doll in New Line Cinema’s horror film “ANNABELLE COMES HOME,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. (Photo: Warner Bros.)

Annabelle Comes Home
3 out of 5 Stars
Gary Dauberman
Writers: James Wan (story by), Gary Dauberman
Starring: Mckenna Grace, Madison Iseman, Katie Sarife
Genre: Horror
Rated: R for horror violence and terror

SALT LAKE CITY (KUTV) – Synopsis: Having taken possession of Annabelle, a doll that acts as a conduit for evil, Ed and Lorraine Warren lock it away in a case made from sacred glass. There the doll remains until the Warrens leave their daughter Judy with a babysitter with a mischievous friend.

Review: We’re now seven films into the Conjuring Universe and the series has yet to live up to the quality of the first film, 2013’s “The Conjuring.” “The Conjuring 2” was decent and I really enjoyed “Annabelle: Creation.” The other three films were various shades of awful.

The casting of Mckenna Grace as 10-year-old Judy Warren had me excited for “Annabelle Comes Home.” Not only has Grace played a young Carol Danvers, she’s also Chris Evan’s best friend according to an interview I did with both actors for the film “Gifted.”

That was then, this is now.

The good news is that “Annabelle Comes Home” is a reasonably good horror film. It’s built on familiar tropes, offers a handful of stories from the Warrens’ files that have not been turned into movies, had a few jump scares that had the audience shouting and giggling in embarrassment and was generally a good time. It’s essentially the cinematic equivalent of going to a haunted house as it strings together a series of expected experiences that are frightening in the moment, but don’t tend to linger.

The performances are generally good, both Madison Iseman and Katie Sarife are new to me. Sarife has the more difficult task of playing Daniela, the unlikable but misunderstood teen who is to blame for releasing Annabelle in the first place. She makes some ridiculously poor decisions, but that’s not that unusual for a teenager.

There are few aspects of the film that don’t add up, but they might be tidbits that will be picked up in future installments. The goofy nature of the romance in the film feels a bit forced and strays into a comedic tone that doesn’t exactly fit with the rest of the film. You don’t have to have levity in a horror film. “Annabelle Comes Home” might have worked better if it didn’t ever give the audience a chance to breathe.