- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Here’s a look at a horror pair of films on Blu-ray featuring a pair of terrifying dolls.

Annabelle Comes Home (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, rated R, 106 minutes, 2.39:1 aspect ratio, $35.99) — One of the prized possessions of real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren returned to screens to deliver another dose of supernatural mayhem.

Of course, I am referring to the famed conduit for evil spirits, a super creepy doll named Annabelle that is part of the much loved “Conjuring” movie franchise now boasting its seventh release in the series.

This Annabelle tale gets set in the 1970s and focuses on the Warrens’ first securing the doll from its pervious owner and adding it to their locked artifact room, an area filled with haunted and cursed items.

After the Warrens (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga reprising their roles) go out for an overnight investigation, they leave their daughter Judy (Mckenna Grace) with responsible baby sitter Mary Ellen (Madison Iseman) and her not-so-responsible friend Daniela (Katie Sarife), who also shows up for the evening.

Daniela is looking to connect with her dead dad and, you guessed it, unlocks the artifact room and accidentally releases the doll from a glass case. As they say in the horror movie biz, let the jump scares commence.

As standard with these stories, rational decision-making quickly evaporates as the case, for example, with Judy encountering a ghostly bloody bride charging at her with a knife in broad daylight.

So why exactly would the gals stay in the house overnight again?

Producer and screenwriter James Wan as well as director Gary Dauberman have so trained the audiences that they are now delightfully setting us up to squint at any obvious chance to jump, be it the glint in a mirror, a slightly open door frame, or the lights mysteriously going out. 

The movie is also more creature feature than paranormal opus as the girls encounter that bloody bride, a ferryman and his victims, a werewolf and Annabelle’s ferocious ram-horned demon.

Fans of the “Conjuring” universe will be satisfied with the results while new viewers will need some cinematic backfill to find out what all the fear is about.

However, expect more “Conjuring” in the future because, trust me, the evil has not been contained.

Best extras: The bonus content is light here with roughly 15 minutes of production fodder. Fans will want to watch some of the movie magic behind creating the main creatures and will enjoy hearing from the Warrens’ daughter about her thoughts on living with Annabelle (actually a Raggedy Ann doll).

Also, viewers get seven deleted scenes that include an alternate ending that is not as exciting as the finale.

Child’s Play (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, rated R, 90 minutes, 2.39:1 aspect ratio, $34.99) — Director Lars Klevberg’s reimaging of a classic horror franchise plays out as a gory, cautionary tale about humanity’s melding with technology and artificial intelligence.

The new story finds a hardworking single mother (Aubrey Plaza) getting her son Andy (Gabriel Bateman) a broken version of the latest animatronic interactive doll Buddi, designed by the invasive high-tech giant Kaslan Corporation (think Cyberdyne Systems).

The doll names itself Chucky, and as the pair begin to bond, Andy’s new pal turns homicidal after the boy shuns him for some misguided behavior.

However, Chucky really wants to play and seeks revenge on not just Andy but mom and all consumers during a big box store massacre when the second wave of Buddi dolls comes to life.

Legendary pop culture icon and renowned voice actor Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker, Joker) voices Chucky but offers nothing to distinguish the role.

No Joker ranting and passion here, folks (Mr. Hamill lent his voice to the Batman baddie in the early 1990s animated show), just a tired line read.

By the way, I would have stuck with the original voice of Chucky, Brad Douriff, who brought a true creepiness to the doll’s personality over his years of service.

Now if the Chucky franchise had never existed, I might have appreciated the all-too-real premise considering the state of technology these days.

Unfortunately, I was around when the original Chucky came to screens, and it’s impossible not to forget its even better origin about a doll coming to life after being possessed by the spirit of a serial killer.

Best extras: An optional solo commentary track with a chatty director offers insight on his “reimagination of Chucky” and his obsession with making the film look like Steven Spielberg’s “E.T.” Except, E.T. never ripped someone’s face off, as far as I can recall.

He is also thrilled throughout mentioning all of the amazing stuff going on and how very happy he was with the script, cast and and visual choices. I’m not sure he was watching the same movie.

Viewers also get 4 minutes on creating Chucky using digital and practical effects and a couple of super brief and super gory cartoon shorts about Chucky created by Lee Hardcastle and his Claymation studio.

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