Annabelle Comes Home: Everything We Learned About The Next Conjuring Movie From Visiting Set
There's more horror to be found in the Warren's vault.
Of the Conjuring Universe's many spin-offs, Annabelle--a horrific porcelain doll that honestly would be nightmare inducing even if it weren't a demonic conduit--is the most developed. Sure, she may owe her big-screen existence to The Conjuring proper, but she's the first in the shared universe to have three films of her very own. Or, at least, she will be with the release of Annabelle Comes Home, the ominously titled follow-up to 2014's Annabelle and 2017's Annabelle: Creation.
But this time, Annabelle isn't alone. This movie features a full-scale catastrophe at the Warrens' home, thanks to their horror-filled paranormal object vault, and Annabelle herself is only the ringleader. During a set visit in Burbank, California, we got a look at just who, and what, else will be joining her for the fun--and what that means for the hapless humans trapped in there with her.
The actual premise of Annabelle Comes Home shakes out like this. The Warren's young daughter, Judy (McKenna Grace), is left alone with her babysitter, the mild mannered Mary Ellen (Madison Iseman), while the Warrens are out of town. Mary Ellen is a bit less-than-enthusiastic about the Warrens' line of work, but Daniela (Katie Sarife), Mary Ellen's friend who sneaks over while mom and dad are gone, more than makes up for it.
Three kids left alone in a house full of cursed artifacts--what could possibly go wrong?
Surprise: literally so much, as we learned watching the scenes progress on set.
Exploring The Warrens'
The major inciting incident that really starts to kick things into gear is Daniela tampering with various artifacts in the Warrens' now-iconic collection room--home of not only Annabelle's containment case, but countless other demonic or otherwise occult objects, from full on suits of Samurai armor to innocuous-looking books.
On set, we chatted with production designer Jennifer Spence, who spoke about building the artifact room in its third incarnation--and specifically, where she found opportunities to create new potential scares. The artifact room itself is loosely based on the real-life Warrens' home, but has grown and changed pretty dramatically over time.
Spence has a keen eye for opportunities, even if she's not certain they'll play a role in the film. She built a trap door in the floor of the artifact room--one that sits over in the nook to the right of Annabelle's case--that she hopes will pave the way for future movies. The artifact room in real life may be bound by the laws of physics, but the movie version is anything but. A sub-basement for even more horrible monsters and ghosts? Why not?
Coming To Life
The artifact room itself is already loaded with potential that promises payoff for the girls. Daniela, in the trailer, explains that she's touched everything inside--not just Annabelle--meaning they're in for some brand-new nightmares.
On set it was impossible to tell which of the artifacts would "come to life" and which were only set dressing--but rest assured, there were a lot to pick from.
Spence also took her "just in case" design work into the rest of the Warrens' home, which was constructed on a soundstage on the Warner Bros. lot. There's another hidden passage--a staircase behind the living room fireplace--that's been left in the blueprints for future Conjuring Installments.
Meet The Bride
We were able to confirm one new monster among the bunch, care of a scene being filmed between Judy, Mary Ellen, and Daniela. Curious about the Warren's line of work, Daniela convinces everyone to start watching some of the Warrens' old case records. The one they land on explains a haunted wedding dress with a brand-new entity named The Bride.
The Bride's mode of operation isn't all that complicated. She possesses any woman who wears her dress and, over a few days, convinces them to kill their new husbands. The Bride was able to murder seven grooms before the Warrens stepped in and saved the day.
But now The Bride is locked away in the artifact room--or, at least, the dress is--just anxiously awaiting a new opportunity to strike, one that Daniela is unwittingly going to provide. We saw a brief glimpse of The Bride's ghost form in the first trailer, and we're expecting way more. Maybe we'll even see a return of some other Conjuring favorites like The Nun in addition to the newcomers.
An Enthusiasm for Horror
During an earlier scene, Judy admits to Mary Ellen that she shares her mom's gift for sensing the supernatural--but she's been keeping it a secret from her parents to prevent them from worrying. McKenna Grace herself doesn't share any of her character's trepidation for the unknown, however. When asked about her interest in scary movies, the young actor lit up and proudly proclaimed that she "loves them!"
But a visit with a real-life priest (Grace calls "Mister Father Tom)" who blessed the set before filming--a Conjuring film tradition--did help put her a bit at ease.
Her castmates don't necessarily share her enthusiasm for horror. Sarife (who plays Daniela) said she keeps a rosary in her sock--just in case.
What else do we know?
The two scenes we saw implied a slow burn sort of terror, and it was too early in production for any of the actors to share their favorite scary moments. However, they were able to assure us that the roles of Ed and Lorraine, as reprised by Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson, are "more than a cameo."
Farmiga and Wilson had apparently come in first thing to knock out their scenes, sadly during the week preceding our visit.
We also got a pretty good idea of just when the movie is taking place. The timeline can get a little confusing if you're coming to the Conjuring Universe for the first time, but it breaks down like this: The first Annabelle movie, set in 1967, is a prequel to The Conjuring, set in 1971, which first established Annabelle's existence in the collection of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. Annabelle: Creation, which takes place in 1943, is a prequel to the prequel, set before Annabelle to elaborate on just how the doll came to be so spooky.
Annabelle Comes Home is set in the early 1970s as well, lining it up roughly around the time the first Conjuring film takes place--so this is before the Conjuring 2, for those of you playing along at home. So if you're interesting in scouring the already released films for clues, your best bet would be to take a look back at the original movie.
Annabelle Comes Home is scheduled to hit theaters June 28.