Since 2013 she’s been seen in more movies than Angelina Jolie. The films she appeared in have grossed over $1 billion at the box office. She doesn’t have much emotional range—her motions are largely confined to opening and closing her eyes—but in these politically correct times you can call her a doll and not fear sounding sexist.
She’s Annabelle, devil dolly.
The real life inspiration for Annabelle, the creepy, possessed toy from The Conjuring series, is safely locked away in ghost hunter Ed and Lorraine Warren’s cabinet of curiosities but her onscreen counterpart is back this weekend in Annabelle: Creation.
But what do we really know about the sinister plaything?
In real life the story began in 1970. A mother bought a vintage Raggedy Ann doll for her daughter Donna. Then it got weird. The doll moved around the apartment and left upsetting messages for her new owner. Freaked out, Donna called in a psychic who determined the spirit of a seven-year-old girl named Annabelle Higgins possessed the toy.
Enter the Warrens, “self-described “demonologists, ghost hunters and kooks.” After a failed exorcism they removed the doll from Donna’s apartment but the supernatural hijinks didn’t stop there. On the way home they claim the doll took control of their car, causing their power brakes and steering to fail. At the Warren house Annabelle continued to act out until they finally contained her evil in a specially built glass lock box. Currently she is on display in the warren’s Occult Museum, located in Lorraine Warren’s basement in Monroe, Connecticut.
In reel life the details are different. Movie Annabelle is a porcelain doll with a white ruffled dress, not a worn Raggedy Ann. Then there’s the invented backstory of the first prequel to The Conjuring movies. The closing credits to 2014’s Annabelle state, “The story, all names, characters and incidents portrayed in this production are fictitious.”
The story isn’t true but don’t worry, she’s still the wickedest doll since Chucky.
Annabelle begins in the late 1960s with a gift from John to his expectant wife Mia. “There’s something I want to give you,” he says. “Oh no,” she laughs, “the last time you said that I ended up pregnant.” He gives her Annabelle, a seemingly harmless antique doll, decked out in a lace wedding dress. The quiet peace of John and Mia’s life is broken by a Manson Family style home invasion, and even though Mia and John survive, strange things start happening in the wake of the attack. “Crazy people do crazy things, ma’am,” explains a detective before everyone starts to realize that Annabelle has something to do with the eerie goings on.
Annabelle: Creation goes back further, digging into why and how the dolly became so disturbed and disturbing. In the new film a doll maker and his wife lose their daughter Annabelle to a car accident. Years later one of her dolls appears to have a life of its own.
The new film will likely raise the hairs on the back of more than a few necks, but one thing is certain, the original doll is still the scariest of all. Visitors to the Occult Museum who mock the doll report having accidents on the way home and Lorraine’s son-in-law Tony Spera says Annabelle is the exhibit that terrifies him the most.