The Scariest Scene In Annabelle Comes Home Jumps Out Of A Creepy Cabinet Of Curiosities

(Welcome to Scariest Scene Ever, a column dedicated to the most pulse-pounding moments in horror with your tour guides, horror experts Matt Donato and Ariel Fisher. In this edition, Ariel has some fun with Annabelle and Matt agrees.)

We like to have fun here, in case you couldn't already tell. So this week, I decided to go with a contemporary creature feature that keeps the frights coming and your pulse pumping. Easily the best in the franchise, "Annabelle Comes Home" is a no-nonsense chiller that capitalizes on what makes the Warren's cabinet of morbid curiosities so fascinating — it's many haunted inhabitants.

Curiosity gets the best of us and it pays off as we get to see what many of the malevolent artifacts are capable of. What's best about it is that it never lets up.

The setup

We've seen this beginning before. The movie starts not unlike "The Conjuring," with two roommates and their friend telling the Warrens about this doll that won't leave them alone: Paddington Annabelle. Not so soft and cuddly, but definitely eager to play, the doll has been wreaking havoc on the roommates. But unlike the first film in the multi-pronged franchise, they skip the whole dour "sorry we've already heard this" and for once, the Warrens simply take the doll and vamoose.

On their way home, they get turned around and eventually break down next to a cemetery where Annabelle winds up calling on the souls of the dead to help her get free of these pesky people. One near-death experience later and Lorraine dubs the deadly doll a beacon for spirits that just be contained. Into their basement it goes, with all the other terrifying trinkets they've collected over the years, to be locked away in a case made of church glass and blessed into oblivion. Then, like putting on a set of noise canceling headphones to drown out the hum of your own mind, the evil goes silent.

...For now.

The story so far

It's a few years later and the Warrens are headed out of town for the night, leaving their young daughter, Judy (Mckenna Grace) home alone on her birthday with her very responsible babysitter, Mary Ellen (Madison Iseman).

I'm not being flippant, she really is very responsible.

Her friend, Daniela (Katie Sarife), on the other hand, is not. Well, she's grieving, but she makes some decisions that basically set the entire plot in motion.

After getting bullied at school (and seeing the spirit of a priest wandering around which serves as a nice reminder that she is, in fact, Lorraine Warren's daughter), Mary Ellen plans to throw Judy a truly tiny but very lovely birthday party, just the two of them. Daniela, ever curious about the Warrens' home life and business dealings, invites herself along for the fun, and potentially a peek at something spooky.

Boy, did she come to the right place.

After gifting Judy a pair of roller skates and urging Mary Ellen to take her around the block to try them out, Daniela goes snooping. She winds up poking through enough stuff to find the keys to their locked room full of paranormal contraband. But she's not just there for a look-see. No no, she just has to touch every item she sees.

For perspective, this is pretty much the equivalent of reading from the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis — you just don't do it!

Well, not only does she wake up everything in the room (admittedly while trying to contact her late father whose death she feels responsible for), but she unlocks Annabelle's case ... and forgets to lock it when she leaves. One by one, each and every one of the not-so-innocuous objects and trinkets in the room come to life and start to terrorize the girls.

This is where "Annabelle Comes Home" becomes the best entry in the "Annabelle" spin-off franchise. Instead of trying to explain the story of Annabelle, they simply use the film to showcase her ... gifts. And that comes in the form of a veritable free-for-all creature feature that pulls out all the stops with nary a moment's pause.

The scene

After looking through the Warrens' various case files, Mary Ellen puts Judy to bed and goes to watch some television. She's quickly distracted by the sound of voices whispering throughout the house, unaware that Daniela has awoken the Ferryman, a haunted figure that demands either a toll be paid or your soul is theirs to keep. His coins, which are placed on the eyes of his cursed victims, were blessed by the Warrens and locked away for safekeeping. Then Daniela touched them. And now, in the dark of the night, the Ferryman lurks in the shadows for a new soul to take, and he has his sunken eyes set on Mary Ellen.

She gets up to investigate the noise — as one does — and starts seeing coins being tossed gently across the floor, almost beckoning her forward. One after another rolls along the floor until Mary Ellen is standing in the dark kitchen, flashlight in hand, staring down the hall at an open door.

The sound of coins scraping against the linoleum rings through the stillness as Mary Ellen slowly looks up. Her eyes follow the beam of light and then make their way through the darkness up to a disembodied face. All it has is two eyes made of coins.

Shaken, she slowly moves the light up to get a better look. As she reaches the coins floating in the air, they fall, revealing nothing behind them but the contents of the pantry.

Frightened, she kneels in front of one of the coins that rolled forward and starts examining it. Her flashlight flickers and dies. She takes the coin in her hand, and slowly stands up, holding it up to the moonlight.

Suddenly, in an instant, she's face to face with the Ferryman as he drags her into the pantry to steal her soul.

The impact (Matt's take)

I'll keep it short and sweet because it's my birthday and I've got some celebratory boozes to consume — Ariel has picked the best scare in this movie. Structurally, it's the same setup so many horror filmmakers use. Beady eyes piercing the darkness; a figure hidden by shadows.

What "Annabelle Comes Home" does so well is subvert expectations by giving you the eyes, removing the figure, pulling the proverbial rug, and then smacking you up-close-and-personal with a Ferryman jump that's unexpected because our preconceptions are challenged. That's how you do a horror scare! Take something familiar, and show audiences how there's still so much unmined potential in the horror genre.