1 – It’s a key movie in the Conjuring universe
Overseen by producer, director and master of horror James Wan, who co-writes Annabelle Comes Home with director Gary Dauberman, the Conjuring films – centred on psychic investigators Lorraine and Ed Warren (Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson) – take part in their own connected world. In Annabelle Comes Home, we see inside the Warrens’ own Connecticut home, which is not only a mecca of mid-century kitsch furniture, it’s also where their case files are stored and where artefacts are housed – behind lock and key – in a special room. Eagle-eyed Conjuring fans will recognise plenty of references to cases from The Conjuring and The Conjuring 2, but don’t worry if you’re new to the series. While characters and plots link up across the decades-spanning franchise, each film can be enjoyed on its own as a symphony of jump scares, gripping plots and horrid, horrid, horrid demonic entities.
2 – It picks up from Annabelle’s appearance in The Conjuring 2
The opening scene of that movie featured a subplot in which Annabelle is causing havoc – and physical harm – in the home of two nursing students, one of who received her as a frankly awful gift from her mother. We join the action right after that as the Warrens seize control of the demonic doll.
3 – The Warrens’ daughter, Judy, comes into her own
Judy Warren (Mckenna Grace) – seen in previous Conjuring films but appearing here in a central role – is a chip off the old block, having inherited some of mum’s powers and much of her bravery too. That – and the fact that her parents have the whackiest job in town – makes her a bit of an outcast at school, which she deals with like a champ.
In Annabelle Comes Home, Judy, her babysitter (Madison Iseman) and her babysitter’s friend (Katie Sarife) have to hold the fort while all hell breaks loose in the household. Judy is based on the real-life daughter of the Warrens, who looks after the family collection with her husband following the death of her mother in 2018 (Ed died in 2006). She told USA Today, “[Annabelle] has never escaped, or acted up. But I don’t want her to get any ideas.”
4 – The soundtrack is cool
Never has the soft rock of the 1970s (think Badfinger) sounded so ominous. Nice retro record player in the Warren house, though.
5 – There are Easter Eggs for Conjuring heads
Including references to other Conjuring films and to the real-life Annabelle story in the form of a Raggedy Ann doll given away as a prize on a TV gameshow. The real-life Warrens acquired the doll, said to be inhabited by the spirit of a child called Annabelle, from two nursing students. See if you can spot the others.
6 – It’s properly scary
Yeah, we know you’ve seen loads of horror films and you never get scared but trust us, this one will give you a major case of The Creeps. Annabelle Comes Home introduces a raft of terrifying new characters to the Conjuring universe. Without wanting to spoil anything, we’ll just say that you’ll be seeing the Ferryman and the Bride, in particular, in your nightmares – if not in future Conjuring films. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.