It’s rare two horror icons of the same type share the box office at the same time.
Horror is such a popular category, it’s normal for multiple spooky shows to hit theaters simultaneously. But to have two movies about killer dolls? That’s not so common.
We knew there was a rivalry. A poster even dropped of Chucky killing Annabelle. To start, what defines better? Box office success does not always correlate with a movie’s overall quality, but the totals are worth noting.
Child’s Play modern remake has grossed over $27 million in less than a month of release. Annabelle’s third outing pulled in nearly twice as much in a slightly shorter time frame. However, what about quality?
While both films have received generally mixed to positive reviews, there’s a big difference between the dolls themselves. The remake sees Chucky as a product of artificial intelligence minus safety protocols, wrapped up in the form of an assuming children’s toy. A machine driven by the urge to protect its owner, even at the expense of other living beings, Chucky is everything we fear about smart technology.
Annabelle, in contrast, is a product of dark forces. The creepy-looking doll is not an animated being that attacks others. Instead, Annabelle serves as a conduit for evil spirits. The doll’s history of being involved with murder and dark rituals make it a magnet for everything we fear about the dark side.
If the question is which movie is objectively better, that’s subjective. You could make a case that Child’s Play was more inventive. Annabelle works with a formula fans understand, whereas Child’s Play took an existing horror franchise and gave it a fresh spin.
Fans were skeptical, but it appears the risk has paid off. While not a replacement for the original, it adds a new layer of complexity to the story. Chucky is now a tragically flawed protagonist, from some perspective. He’s murderous, sure, but he isn’t gleefully taking lives. He feels he’s protecting his best friend, and while he has the capacity to learn since he’s smart technology, he lacks the ability to understand the full consequence of his actions.
If the question is which movie is better for its respective series, the nod undoubtedly goes to Annabelle. The new entry doesn’t just create a trilogy, but it adds more to the Conjuring universe as a whole. With a new Conjuring movie coming up, this movie reminds fans the series can still conjure up some frights. With its claustrophobic feel and perfectly timed scares, Annabelle Comes Home is an example of a strong series entry done right. That’s not just compared to Child’s Play, but to all horror.
In their own ways, both these devilish dolls pulled off an impressive showing during the 2019 summer movie season.