As you might expect, Annabelle: Creation is a prequel to the 2014 horror movie about the creepy haunted doll you love to hate, but it’s also the latest entry in a surprisingly large cinematic universe. Keeping everything straight in the aptly named Conjuring-verse, which began with the 2013 horror flick of the name, can be a little scary.
Here’s a guide to help get you through WTF led up to Annabelle: Creation and how the film connects to the greater Conjuring universe.
The Conjuring-verse is based entirely on the case files of Ed and Lorraine Warren, a self-taught Catholic demonologist and trance medium, respectively, who came to be perhaps the world’s best-known and most infamous paranormal investigators. They’re the pair responsible the “true” story behind The Amityville Horror, just to give you an idea. The Warrens’ controversial misadventures into the supernatural spawned an incredible number of books, the 18 (current) films in the Amityville franchise, and, yes, the entire Conjuring universe, making their experiences perhaps the most influential of their contemporaries in the modern horror zeitgeist.
So, even if they don’t initially sound familiar, you definitely know them — though, maybe not beyond Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga’s portrayals of them onscreen.
So far, the Conjuring-verse consists of The Conjuring (2013), Annabelle (2014), The Conjuring 2 (2016) — totaling about $900 million at the worldwide box office — and, now, Annabelle: Creation (2017). The Nun is slated for 2018, Conjuring 3 is expected sometime in the next couple of years, and there are whispers about a Conjuring 2 spin-off, The Crooked Man.
So, there’s a lot going on in the Conjuring-verse. Where does Annabelle: Creation fit in?
Annabelle’s introduction in The Conjuring
The Annabelle doll itself first appeared in the opening scene of The Conjuring. The movie begins with the movie begins with the Warrens (Wilson and Farmiga’s versions of them) interviewing three college-aged students about how they allowed the spirit of a 7-year-old girl named Annabelle Higgins to inhabit a creepy old doll one of the girls had. But weird shit started to happen (as in, the doll would move on its own and draw threatening messages in red crayon on the walls), so they got rid of it.
The Warrens’ work with the Annabelle doll inspires the family in The Conjuring to hire the pair when some really nasty stuff goes down in their house, but, otherwise, Annabelle doesn’t have too much to do with The Conjuring. Still, keep it in mind; her brief role in the film inspired a spin-off in the form of Annabelle, which later connects back to The Conjuring.
Annabelle is where the details start to come in and get really good. Or bad, depending on how you feel about dolls and devil worship.
Annabelle, the doll’s most famous story
By the end of Annabelle, you learn that the college students at the beginning of The Conjuring had the doll in the first place because one of the girls’ mother bought it for her. Because, apparently, teenagers in the 1960s really liked demented dolls that look like something will possess you just by making eye contact with them.
Annabelle adds a whole new layer of creep to The Conjuring, and Creation is meant to build even further on that terror. As if Annabelle weren’t bad enough, now you can learn why she was never destroyed in the first place.
Back to the beginning with Annabelle: Creation
Annabelle: Creation takes place before any of the stuff from The Conjuring or the first Annabelle movie goes down, flashing back to the 1940s and ‘50s to clarify some of the finer details of Annabelle’s, well, creation. Is she a demon or the ghost of a little girl? Why wasn’t the doll destroyed from the very beginning? Has she always loved rocking chairs?
But the moral of the story of every Conjuring-verse film is to never buy your child a doll. Also, don’t buy rocking chairs, just to be safe.
Annabelle: Creation is now in theaters.