<i>Annabelle</i>: Inside the Film, Story Behind the Demonic Doll

She terrified you in last year’s The Conjuring, but this is where it all began for Annabelle, a doll that makes Chucky seem like child’s play. Annabelle is capable of unspeakable evil and has done some pretty horrific things, things that have earned her a one-way trip to an occult museum in Connecticut, where she’s locked up and visited only by a priest who blesses her twice a month.

Basically, Annabelle is the doll from hell, and the new film doesn’t shy away from showing us her demonic behavior. However, the film is not an exact portrayal of the real-life story you’ve probably heard or had a glimpse of in The Conjuring.

The real Annabelle was reportedly purchased at a thrift store as a birthday present for a college student in the ‘70s. She was a Raggedy Ann Doll that tormented her owner and purportedly moved on her own, wrote notes on paper, lied about her identity, clawed and scratched the living, and is even blamed for at least one death. Annabelle currently rests in a glass case at the Warren’s Occult Museum in Connecticut, behind a sign that reads “Warning: Positively Do Not Open.”

What filmmakers wanted to recreate in this film, however, was how Annabelle came to be.

“We know she’s so bad that, even after all this time, she still has to be kept locked up,” said producer James Wan, who has always been fascinated by the Annabelle case. “But, how did she get that way?”

Fellow producer Peter Safran added, “How does something so charming, so sweet, become a conduit for pure evil and destruction?”

In Annabelle, you’ll find out. Starring Annabelle (freaky, right?) Wallis from X-Men: First Class, Ward Horton and Alfre Woodard (12 Years a Slave), the film begins before the evil was unleashed.

John Form (Horton) has found the perfect gift for his expectant wife, Mia (Wallis)—a beautiful, rare vintage doll in a pure white wedding dress. At first, Mia is pretty pleased with her gift…but that soon changes.

On one horrific night, a satanic cult invades the Forms’ home and violently attacks the couple. The cultists leave behind blood and trauma, but that’s not all; they have conjured an entity so malevolent that nothing they did will compare to the sinister conduit to the damned that is now Annabelle.

One might think working on a movie that incorporates demons and dolls is frightening, to say the least. Woodard, who plays a neighbor named Evelyn, said she “thought it would be fun” to work on Annabelle, but it disturbed her “because it creates a very convincing reality where truly alarming paranormal events take place.”

And she’s right. Sure, films about aliens, zombies and dark-hooded killers induce fear but with Annabelle, the scariest part is the fact that it’s extremely realistic. After all, many people strongly argue demonic forces do exist.'

“There are realms beyond our senses we can’t comprehend, and there are entities we can’t fathom,” said director John R. Leonetti. “The mythology of demonology will always fascinate people—and mess with their heads…especially a possessed doll that is beautiful and creepy all at the same time.”

As we’ve seen with other films such as Child’s Play and Poltergeist that feature possessed toys, dolls are sometimes the best stars in horror flicks because they’re familiar and real.

“Everyone’s had a toy that they’ve thought was alive at night,” said Wallis. “[Annabelle] definitely resonated with me, and I think [it] will resonate with a lot of other people too.”

As Leonetti perfectly explained, “Annabelle is an incredible way to facilitate fright, because she’s real. And nothing is scarier than that.”

Well, there is something that was scarier—at least for the film’s cast and crew. During production, several “strange” things happened, including a huge glass fixture that came unhinged and smashed to the ground while they shot supernatural sequences in Mia and John’s apartment.

Off set, Horton said a mischievous presence followed him, and objects would disappear and then reappear in places he had not put them. “There was something bigger going on during this film,” he said.

Besides the weird things happening outside of filming, the Annabelle doll gave off quite a chilling vibe, on set and in the movie. The same North Carolina artist who created the molds for the original doll in The Conjuring created two additional versions of the doll in Annabelle. The first doll is new, pristine and innocent. This is pre-supernatural Annabelle.

The second doll is a different story. Her skin is darker, she’s more distressed, and her eyes reflect darkness and possession. This is demon-possessed Annabelle.

“Before I met the Annabelle doll on The Conjuring, I thought, ‘It’s a doll—so what?’ But then I saw her,” explained Leonetti. “She’s the size of a small child—that in itself throws you. And when she looks at you, she looks at you. But watching her transform from pretty to pretty creepy this time was more unnerving.”

Horton described his first time seeing the doll: “I saw her for the first time in the makeup chair, and I had to look twice to make sure she wasn’t real or moving…I’m not sure which,” he laughed and added, “I was always uneasy around her.”

Wallis said, “You look at her, and she is so symbolic of all that is good and innocent, yet there’s something about her…she is this menace.”

Yes, Annabelle is a menace; she’s an absolute terror. But, her performance in this upcoming film will surely satisfy horror buffs and thrill seekers everywhere. Let’s just hope demonic forces didn’t attach themselves to her this time around.

Note: All direct quotes were gathered from a prepared press release.

Annabelle releases in theaters Friday, Oct. 3, 2014.

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