The horror movies of The Conjuring Universe definitely take themselves seriously. Sure, there are the occasional laughs featured in the six features we’ve seen thus far, but they are pretty few and far between, as the focus has clearly always been primarily on scares. This is a tradition that fans can expect to see continue soon in the upcoming Annabelle Comes Home, but according to writer/director Gary Dauberman, you may find yourself chuckling while watching the movie a bit more than you did with previous chapters in this franchise.
The tone of Annabelle Comes Homes was a subject that came up during an interview with Dauberman on the set of the film when it was in production late last year, and in discussing his approach the filmmaker revealed that the new release will be a bit different than the previous two Annabelle features (both of which he wrote). While he stressed that there will never be a point in the movie where a comedic beat is given preference over a scare, there are going to be some laughs mixed in with the screams during the experience:
I'm not a huge fan of horror comedies, but I love comedy in my horror – if that makes sense. I like moments of levity, so I'm leaning into that a little bit more on certain moments, because I find if we hit the moments where people laugh, and then they get scared right away… I like trying to land that. I've been playing around with that a little bit more.
It’s an interesting direction to take, and arguably a smart one. While it’s definitely true that too much comedy can undercut the more frightening aspects of a horror film, striking a proper balance can work wonders. After all, making an audience smile with a joke or silly situation can lure them into a false sense of security, and when their guard is down a proper scare can result in shrieks, spilled soda, and flung popcorn.
Furthermore, a proper application of laughs interspersed with shocks does wonders for the ride-like experience that a great horror movie can offer. Those are two emotions on opposite ends of the spectrum, and it can be a blast for crowds to constantly bounce back and forth between those extremes. A recent example of a film that did that brilliantly was Andres Muschietti’s IT – which Gary Dauberman also wrote.
Part of what allows Gary Dauberman to take this approach with Annabelle Comes Home is that the plot offers circumstances that make the laughs natural – something that he didn’t really have in the making of Annabelle or Annabelle: Creation. Specifically, there is a classic horror set up here, with the story centering on young Judy Warren (McKenna Grace) as she spends the night with a babysitter (Madison Iseman) and her babysitter’s best friend (Katie Sarife) in a house that starts to go a bit nuts thanks to the presence of Annabelle. As Dauberman explained, the personalities of the girls allowed him to try some lighter tones with the plot, while never breaking too far from the larger tone of The Conjuring Universe movies. Said the writer/director,
That just fits the girls too because they're just so upbeat. It’s that sort of the teenagers alone in the house thing we're trying to capture too. It's been a lot of... We're not going ‘outside the box’ on this one, but I think we're trying to get a couple more moments of levity that maybe weren't there in the first and second one. I mean, there were moments of levity, but a little bit more of that sprinkled in.
Annabelle Comes Home, which features the return of Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga as Ed and Loraine Warren, will be hitting theaters everywhere as a big summer release this year – scheduled to go nationwide on June 28th. It’s one of our most anticipated releases of the season, so you can be sure that we’ll have a lot more for you to read about it here on CinemaBlend between now and when it comes out.