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Read this before you see Annabelle Comes Home

If you haven't seen any of the entries in the Conjuring universe, you are missing out on one of the most profitable and popular modern film franchises. Not only have several of the films been certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, the series has made its parent company Warner Bros. quite a bit of money. In fact, according to ScreenRant, the Conjuring films are Warner Bros.' most consistently successful cinematic universe. 

But the Conjuring series is not just a big deal to Warner Bros. According to Forbes, if the newest film in the franchise, Annabelle Comes Home, reaches just $64 million worldwide after its release, The Conjuring will surpass The Matrix trilogy as the most profitable R-rated film franchise in all of cinematic history. 

All that financial success has to come from somewhere. What has brought these movies to this tipping point? If you are curious about Annabelle Comes Home and want to know more about the film before seeing it in theaters when it releases on June 28, 2019, then keep on reading. This is everything you need to know before seeing the film.

The Annabelle films

After her first appearance in The Conjuring, the Annabelle doll has become a staple of the Conjuring universe and has since been given two spin-off films of her own. Starting with Annabelle in 2014 and the prequel film Annabelle: Creation in 2017, the spin-off series has been a modest financial success. Though Annabelle received a relatively cold reception from critics and audiences, the film still grossed over $257 million worldwide

Annabelle: Creation performed much better than its predecessor, which immediately becomes clear when you compare their scores on Rotten Tomatoes. Creation also ended up grossing more than the first Annabelle, netting over $306 million worldwide. In fact, the Annabelle films are unique as the only Conjuring spin-offs to find significant praise from critics. 

The colder reception of the two most recent films in the franchise, The Nun and The Curse of La Llorona, may not bode well for Annabelle Comes Home. Nevertheless, the fan-favorite doll still has a lot of potential. 

A night of terror

While the other two films in the Annabelle series have featured scenarios separate from the rest of the Conjuring universe, Annabelle Comes Home takes us back to the Warren household. Ed and Lorraine Warren, a married couple of demonologists, keep a host of artifacts recovered from their supernatural cases in a locked room inside of their home. This safe room is home to numerous haunted items, including the Annabelle doll.

In the Conjuring films, the Warrens' daughter, Judy, is explicitly told to stay out of the safe room. However, in Annabelle Comes Home, Judy's babysitter, Daniela, shows a dangerous curiosity toward the Warrens' artifact room. Having recently lost her father, Daniela is obsessed with the afterlife, and as a result, she accidentally unleashes the evil spirits kept within the Warrens' home. "Daniela will do whatever she can to find out whether or not there is an afterlife," director Gary Dauberman explains. "Annabelle's presence causes all these other things to come to life."

After the spirits are unleashed, Judy becomes the primary target for the evil entities. Producer James Wan described the film to Entertainment Weekly as "…basically A Night at the Museum, with Annabelle!" 

Who are the real life Warrens?

Edward and Lorraine Warren, played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga respectively, are staples of the Conjuring universe, but the pair are actually based on two real-life paranormal investigators. The Warrens are famous for a multitude of paranormal cases, including the Amityville haunting, which spawned a franchise of horror filmsThe Conjuring is inspired by another of the Warren's cases that took place at a Rhode Island farmhouse in the '70s. Notably, the Warrens founded the Warren Occult Museum in Connecticut. The museum is home to a variety of occult and supposedly haunted artifacts, including the real Annabelle doll. 

Though the Warrens are well known for their work, the two are considered controversial among skeptics. Neurologist Steven Novella, president of the New England Skeptical Society, told USA Today, "The Warrens are good at telling ghost stories… You could do a lot of movies based on the stories they have spun. But there's absolutely no reason to believe there is any legitimacy to them."

Whether or not their work is legitimate, the cultural impact of Ed and Lorraine Warren, particularly on horror films, is undeniably. Ed passed away in 2006, while Lorraine passed away on April 18th, 2019.

Inspired by The Nun

Overall, filming for the Conjuring spin-off The Nun took a total of 38 days, according to a tweet from the film's director, Corin Hardy. It was during this filming period that Gary Dauberman, director of Annabelle Comes Home and writer of The Nun, was inspired to bring the Annabelle series back to the Warren home. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Dauberman said that while filming in Romania he began to feel homesick, which made him think about how much he missed familiar environments, ultimately inspiring him to bring the Conjuring universe back to the home of the Warrens.

"I was over in Romania for The Nun, and just being away from my family and stuff made me very homesick," Dauberman told Entertainment Weekly. "I was like, 'Man, I want to go home, and it would be nice on this one to bring the franchise back home, literally, into the Warrens' house."

The artifact room

In the Conjuring films, the Warrens' artifact room is shown to have numerous haunted artifacts from the couple's previous cases. Several sets of shelves are filled with cryptic objects that beg for an explanation and retelling of how they came to be under the Warrens' protection. Throughout the series, the Warrens have advised people in their house not to enter the room where they keep their trophies of past investigations. Touching the items is fiercely warned against, since the possibility of freeing any of the spirits contained therein could be dire. 

Though we have only seen glimpses of all the artifacts housed in the Warren house, Annabelle Comes Home places a bigger importance on the spirits in that room. "The idea of actually setting a film around [the artifact room] was something that we had in our mind for a while," says producer Peter Safran. "[We] just thought that the third Annabelle movie is the opportunity to really raise the stakes."

From series writer to director

Director Gary Dauberman is no stranger to the Conjuring universe. Previously, Dauberman has served as a writer for multiple films in the franchise, including Annabelle, Annabelle Creation, and The Nun. Dauberman even got to go on location with the crew as they shot The Nun in Romania — a level of involvement not always guaranteed for a screenwriter. For over a month, Dauberman got to see how the script he wrote was crafted into a fully finished film that would eventually be shared with the world.

In an interview with Collider, franchise producer Peter Safran commented on Dauberman's transition from writer to director for Annabelle Comes Home, saying, "He got to a place, as a writer, where he wanted people to stop f***ing up his movies."

Outside of his work on the Conjuring franchise, Dauberman also worked on the 2017 adaptation of It and is slated as a writer for the upcoming horror projects Are You Afraid of the Dark? and It: Chapter 2.

A new supernatural foe

In the film's trailer, a new supernatural entity can be seen standing in a corner of the Warrens' artifact room. After Daniela goes against the advice of Judy and enters the room where all of the possessed objects are kept under lock and key, she hears the ghostly voice of a woman say, "I like your doll." We then see an image of a wedding dress on a mannequin in the corner. This artifact belongs to the entity known as the Bride. 

According to GameSpot's report from the set of Annabelle Comes Home, the Bride is a new entity in the series that possesses women who wear her dress and convinces them to kill their husbands. After each woman is made to murder her new spouse, the Bride kills her. 

The introduction of a new demonic presence could be a sign of films to come. After all, the Nun and the Crooked Man were introduced in The Conjuring 2. It didn't take long for each of them to get a solo spin-off, with The Nun premiering in 2018 and The Crooked Man still in the works, according to Cinemablend.

Judy shares Lorraine's gift

In both of the main Conjuring films, Lorraine Warren has demonstrated an ability to see and communicate with ghosts and demons. In the first film, this ability is demonstrated when she is able to see the spirit of Bathsheba. The Conjuring 2, meanwhile, begins with Lorraine having a vision of a murder during a seance and communicating with the demon terrorizing a family. Lorraine is also able to see the nun entity, Valka, throughout the film while others cannot.

In the trailer for Annabelle Comes Home, Judy mentions that, while she hasn't told her parents, she can "see things" just like her mother Lorraine. This implies that a prominent plot point in Annabelle Comes Home will revolve around Judy's apparent ability to communicate with the evil spirits, and may also explain why she is regarded as the primary target for their supernatural hijinks. 

A haunting in real life too

A trend in the Conjuring universe is that the sets for many of the films are allegedly cursed. The unit publicist for Annabelle Comes Home told PopSugar that ever since The Conjuring 2, all of the sets have been blessed by Catholic priests prior to filming. She explained, "On The Conjuring 2, we had an exorcist that was recommended to us by Lorraine [Warren] — a friend of hers who's sanctioned by the church to exorcise buildings but not people. Apparently there are different levels of sanctions for exorcisms."

That hasn't stopped eerie occurrences on set. McKenna Grace, who will be playing the Warrens' daughter Judy in Annabelle Comes Home, recounted a creepy moment from the beginning of filming to CinemaBlend. "On one of the first days, I came and looked at the house that they built, on set. We were doing our rehearsal and my nose was pouring blood, all of a sudden. The lights were off because they had to re-set something, and I was like, 'There's blood!' And then, as soon as I stepped outside to go to the restroom to get a tissue, it stopped. It was creepy. But then we had the set blessing, so everything is good now."

Its place in the Conjuring universe

With all of the films in the Conjuring universe, it can get a bit confusing trying to remember how each story fits into the series' timeline. Annabelle Comes Home sits at an interesting intersection in the timelines of both the Annabelle spin-off series and the main Conjuring films. 

According to a timeline published by Digital SpyAnnabelle: Creation starts off in the year 1943, though the bulk of the film takes place in 1955, with a group of young girls trying to survive their encounter with the Annabelle doll. As for the original Annabelle, the film takes place in 1967, as a young couple try to protect their souls from the malicious intent of the doll with the help of Father Perez. 

Annabelle Comes Home will take place in 1971, but it won't be the only film taking place during that year. Annabelle Comes Home shares its setting with the original Conjuring film. In the opening of The Conjuring, the Warrens take the possessed Annabelle doll into their custody before they leave for Connecticut. With the addition of Annabelle Comes Home, the Conjuring universe comes full circle.

Patrick Wilson as Ed Warren

On the screen, Ed Warren is a devoted yet steadfast demonologist who works in tandem with his wife. However, Patrick Wilson, the actor who portrays the late Ed Warren, started out far from the tense atmospheres and spooky settings of horror films.

Wilson started his entertainment career by playing leading men in different Broadway musicals — and not only did he act, sing, and dance onstage, he excelled. In 2001, Wilson was nominated for the Tony Award for the best actor in a musical, finding himself listed alongside acting heavyweights such as Kevin Chamberlin, Matthew Broderick, and Nathan Lane. The following year, Wilson was the only member of the 2001 nomination list to return, though he lost in 2002 to John Lithgow.

Aside from starring in musicals and playing a demonologist onscreen, Wilson has a rather diverse film portfolio, including his appearance in the 2009 Zack Snyder film Watchmen. In the alternate-history superhero action thriller, Wilson plays Dan Dreiberg, who is convinced to reluctantly put his costume back on and to resume his role as the Nite Owl after some retired heroes start dying mysteriously. After getting to play a hero in Watchmen, Wilson returned to the world of comic book adaptations to play King Orm in the 2018 blockbuster Aquaman. Another popular film fans may recognize Patrick Wilson from: the 2010 A-Team adaptation, in which he plays Lynch.

Vera Farmiga as Lorraine Warren

Vera Farmiga has had a successful career on the stage, in film, and behind the camera. But the story of how she got here is certainly unique, to say the least.

On her website Farmiga explains that because she is the daughter of two devoutly Catholic Ukrainian immigrants, she grew up in a small Ukrainian community in Passaic, New Jersey. She discovered her love of performance after auditioning for a high school stage production and landing the principal role. From there, she became part of a semi-professional Ukrainian dance group called Syzokryli. After high school, Farmiga went to Syracuse University to study acting, ultimately embarking on a professional stage career, where she was noticed by television and film producers.

This attention led to roles in films such as The Departed, Down to the Bone, and The Manchurian Candidate. After appearing onscreen alongside the likes of Meryl Streep, Heath Ledger, and Robert De Niro, she was nominated for an Oscar in 2010, for her supporting role in Up in the Air.

The real-life Annabelle

Annabelle is a terrifying antagonist onscreen — and the true story behind the real-life Annabelle doll is just as horrifying. According to the Warrens' website, the Annabelle doll was bought by a woman for her daughter, Donna. Unfortunately, after Donna was given the seemingly harmless gift, she and her roommate started to notice some strange occurrences around the house. Allegedly, the doll would move to different rooms, change positions, and even leave ominous hand-written notes.

A medium was called to investigate, and after a seance, the medium claimed that the doll hosted the spirit of a young girl named Annabelle Higgins, who was found dead where their apartment was built. According to the medium, Annabelle wanted to remain close to the girls. Feeling compassionate, the roommates gave Annabelle's spirit permission to stay with them in their apartment.

Despite their good intentions, things only went downhill from here. After recurring bad dreams and suspicious noises in the apartment, along with other creepy occurrences, the Warrens stepped in. It was determined that the Annabelle doll was inhabited by a demonic entity, and the doll was exorcised and given to the Warrens for safekeeping. After Annabelle allegedly attempted to have a priest killed, the Warrens enclosed the doll in a special case and moved it to their Occult Museum, where it remains a popular attraction for tourists and supernatural enthusiasts.

Possible themes

While pretty much every film in the Conjuring universe has heavy themes relating to Christianity and employs a lot of religious imagery, the Annabelle films are particularly interesting thematically, including a few ideas regarding the nature of motherhood and the sacrifices that mothers have to make to protect their children. Mia's willingness to sacrifice herself goes a long way toward showing how the best mothers are willing to give everything to keep evil and vice from corrupting or stealing their children.

Annabelle: Creation shows just how desperate grief can make people. In their desperation to get their daughter back, the Mullin family welcomes what looks like the spirit of their dead daughter into their house. Unbeknownst to them, the Mullins accidentally allow a demon access to their home. This spirit goes on to terrorize the Mullins and the orphans they'd taken in as a form of personal penance.  

With Annabelle Comes Home, audiences may see some of these previously explored themes revisited. In The Conjuring, Lorraine is shown to be extremely concerned with the well being of her daughter Judy, even seeing visions of her dead body floating in a river. With Judy now targeted by Annabelle, this could resurface in some truly terrifying ways.