If James Wan’s 2013 film THE CONJURING created a new cinematic universe to explore, Annabelle has undoubtedly become its queen. Introduced in the opening scenes of THE CONJURING merely as a case that Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) once investigated, the evil doll has become a mainstay of the franchise and a bona fide pop culture icon.
Of course, characters based on real-life paranormal experts Ed and Lorraine Warren anchor what is now known as “the Conjuring Universe,” not just with their extensive case files, but also with the humanity and compassion they bring to each investigation. But even if Annabelle started as a fun, frightening curio — a scene-setter for what was to come with the Perron family in the first movie — the doll’s story tapped into something deeper and more universal that audiences have responded to in a big way through the spinoff films ANNABELLE and ANNABELLE: CREATION. Now, ANNABELLE COMES HOME takes the story further.
These films slowly found a comfortable groove to explore the events around the actual doll. The real object is a Raggedy Ann toy that a student nurse gave to the Warrens in the late 1960s, after a psychic medium told her it was inhabited by the spirit of a dead girl. ANNABELLE followed the doll after it is placed in the home of an expectant mother and explored the havoc it wreaked on the young family in the wake of a bloody home invasion next door.
ANNABELLE: CREATION jumped back even further in time, to the actual assembly of the doll itself. That task was undertaken by a dollmaker, who designed it in honor of his own daughter, Annabelle, before she was killed in a car accident.
CREATION explained the specter of evil connected to the doll. More specifically, it showed how the grief of Annabelle’s parents fueled and facilitated that evil’s entry into our world. When young orphans went to live in the dollmaker’s home, they uncovered the Annabelle doll and were soon terrorized by an evil force that may be more than a simple piece of porcelain craftsmanship. The events of CREATION eventually lead to those in the first ANNABELLE, where murder is committed in her name, showcasing the increasing power of the evil force.
Home Again, Home Again
ANNABELLE COMES HOME further expands the mythology and takes places within the timeline of the very first movie in the series. The story comes full circle as Ed and Lorraine Warren bring the doll back to their home after the events that open THE CONJURING. They believe the doll to be locked safely away in their room of occult artifacts, but Annabelle’s presence only seems to super-charge the other objects in the room. That leads to a particularly deadly escalation after Ed and Lorraine go away, leaving their 10-year-old daughter, Judy (Mckenna Grace), in the care of the family babysitter, Mary Ellen (Madison Iseman), and her best friend, Daniela (Katie Sarife).
Having now appeared in THE CONJURING as well as three films of her own, Annabelle is more than just a spinoff character or even a symbol for the Conjuring Universe. Annabelle joins the ranks of Chucky and other horror icons that have made audiences afraid of their own homes. She’s a beloved — if terrifying — villain in her own right.
ANNABELLE COMES HOME — or at least arrives in theatres — on June 26.