Warning: MAJOR SPOILERS ahead for Annabelle: Creation, Annabelle and The Conjuring
Annabelle: Creation marks the fourth cinematic outing for the eponymous doll, after being introduced in The Conjuring and then featured in the spin-off Annabelle, with a brief nod in The Conjouring 2, and her latest movie reveals new details about Annabelle’s demonic and human origins. The prequel film opens in the mid-forties, with a wordless credit sequence depicting the creation of the doll by toymaker Samuel Mullins (Anthony LaPaglia). It’s the first of a limited edition run by Mullins, and also the last after tragedy strikes the family.
Samuel and his wife Esther (Mirando Otto) have a daughter whom they fondly call Bee (their “busy bee”), who is sadly run down by a car and killed in a freak accident near their home. Fast forward 12 years, and the Mullins have opened their home up to six orphan girls and a nun, having never had any more children, and to try and atone for the guilt they feel for causing the demonic possession of the doll.
After the death of Bee – whose real name is Annabelle – the parents are left distraught. They want to see their little girl again and pray to anything and everything for the opportunity to be reunited – even to Satan. Well, someone downstairs hears their prayers and pretends to be their daughter in order to find a way to stay and prey on innocents souls on Earth. The Ram demon manipulates them both, Esther especially, by using Bee’s image to persuade the couple to let it use the doll as an anchor to stay in their world. They agree, but soon realize that the little girl running around their home is not their daughter, and when Esther confronts it she is attacked and has an eye gouged out.
The Mullins contact the Catholic church in order to exorcize the demon, but realize that it is too powerful to separate from the doll, so instead they lock it in the closet of Bee’s room, which is lined with “the word of God” – a.k.a. pages from the bible. For 12 years, the demonic doll sits dormant in their home, with the couple becoming more reclusive and Esther not leaving the house after her attack. It’s only when the Mullins let the orphans into their home to live that the evil within the Annabelle doll awakens, sensing the young souls entering, and begins targeting the most vulnerable, Janis (Talitha Bateman), a polio-stricken young girl who needs crutches. No thanks to Sister Charlotte (Stephanie Sigman), the other girls and the Mullins, the demon eventually takes Janis’ soul and her body becomes possessed by the evil spirit.
By the end of the film, Sister Charlotte and the girls manage to survive, but the demon Janis has escaped. The doll is taken by the cops instead as evidence and put in the trunk of their car by the girls, who symbolically slam the lid shut on it. While they find another orphanage, Janis has ended up in another children’s home, but is now going by the name Annabelle. She becomes the adopted daughter of the Higgins (Kerry O’Malley and Brian Howe), which finally connects the original Annabelle with this prequel. The demonic Janis is the Annabelle Higgins who murders her parents in their family home, next to the house of Mia and John Form (Annabelle Wallis and Ward Horton), who coincidentally end up with the Annabelle doll.
As screenwriter for both Annabelle and Annabelle: Creation, it seems Gary Dauberman has slightly retconned the mythology of the demonic doll from the original film. The implication in Annabelle is that the ritual sacrifice made by Anabelle Higgins (by slitting her throat and letting her blood drip on the doll) caused the Ram demon to enter the doll, but the prequel makes it clear that the Ram demon was always inside of Janis/Annabelle and simply used the doll as a conduit again after she killed herself. The prequel also contradicts the identity of the seven-year-old ghost seen in Annabelle, said to be Annabelle Higgins, and the backstory of the doll laid out in The Conjuring.
The doll comes into the possession of demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) from two nursing students and their male friend. Like the Mullins, the roommates say they were asked by the ghost Annabelle – who they are told died on the property by a psychic – to be allowed to possess the doll so she could stick around. The nurses’ story is actually based on the “true” story of Annabelle the doll, which was actually of the Raggedy Ann variety and given to a nursing student by her mother in 1970 (Side Note: A nod to this story is offered in Annabelle: Creation when the Higgins give Janis/Annabelle a Raggedy Ann doll that looks just like the one of lore). After the doll began moving around and leaving parchment notes, she called in a medium who told them the doll was inhabited by the spirit of a dead girl named “Annabelle Higgins.”
Annabelle: Creation has retconned this idea, as we now know that Annabelle Higgins didn’t die in that property and that the Ram demon was already using the doll as a conduit. However, the producers could explain away the seven-year-old ghost’s appearance in Annabelle and mention in The Conjuring by suggesting that the demon is actually continuing to use the facade of Annabelle Mullins which others have wrongly assumed is Annabelle Higgins. The mid-credit scene also suggests that the doll may not be completely without evil without the Ram demon either.
Now that we know the origins of the Annabelle doll, it doesn’t mean it might not pop again in future instalments of The Conjuring franchise and with the famous demonic nun making a brief appearance in Annabelle: Creation, the sinister doll may return the favour in 2018’s The Nun too.
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