Without a doubt, the most iconic visual to come out of 2013’s The Conjuring was that of the creepy Annabelle doll. Its story serves as the film’s prologue, and it does a great job of both introducing Ed and Lorraine Warren, while also setting up an unsettling tone.
So it wasn’t a really a surprise that Warner Brothers announced an Annabelle spinoff. From it spawned a trilogy that’s been released at a faster pace than The Conjuring movies have been. While it got off to a rocky start, the Annabelle movies have actually gotten better with each one. And they did so by remembering why people loved The Conjuring to begin with.
The Unnecessary Spinoff
Initially it seemed odd that Annabelle would get a whole movie since the entire “true” story had already been told in the opening minutes of The Conjuring. It seemed like a shameless cash grab (which it undoubtedly was), and it kinda showed in the movie itself.
Annabelle film wasn’t terrible by any means, it just felt incredibly generic, especially coming right off the heels of Conjuring, which was praised by both audiences and critics. It tried to tie the story into the Manson murders, but didn’t do so enough to make it interesting or justify the tie-in.
Its ending seemingly came out of nowhere with a “sacrifice” that seemed to make no sense. If it hadn’t been for The Conjuring 2, this franchise could have easily fizzled out.
An Interesting Sequel
After an impressive feature debut with 2016’s Lights Out, David F. Sandberg (who would go on to directed Shazam!) was given the reigns to Annabelle: Creation, which served as a prequel to a prequel.
It was further removed from the original Conjuring narrative, but it’s a solid story that deals with the creation of the doll itself. The first film had previously tried to give Annabelle’s “origin”, but it worked better here because we had a stronger connection with these characters and it was really fascinating to see the doll itself get made.
Plus there’s something inherently creepier about kids in horror movies, and this film’s cast was primarily children. Overall, Annabelle: Creation is a better story than its predecessor, and it’s just plain scarier.
Tying it All Back Together
2019’s Annabelle Comes Home finally gave audiences what they had always wanted from the franchise, a quasi-Conjuring sequel. We get Ed and Lorraine Warren in supporting roles and delve deeper into their home and family life, along with the toll that their work takes on their daughter Judy.
Most fascinating of all however, is that we get Annabelle conjuring up other spirits from other “cursed artifacts” in the Warrens’ collection. It’s all the more fun because many of those other spirits are references to other cases they’ve worked.
It’s a great conclusion to a trilogy that kind of came out of nowhere, and it held audiences over until we get the next Conjuring movie (which is now coming in 2021 due to the pandemic).
Annabelle remains the most famous thing to come out of the entire “Conjuring Universe” and it’s unclear if there will be any further sequels. But if there are, hopefully they continue this incredibly rare upward trend of the last two. There really aren’t many trilogies out there that you can say the movies got better each time.