If you've been on the internet recently you've probably been surprised by one of the shocking "screamer" commercials for Annabelle Comes Home. The third movie centering on the seriously creepy haunted doll from James Wan's Conjuring-verse hits screens this weekend, but what you might not know is the super spooky Annabelle series is based on an even scarier true story.
To really understand the history of the pink cheeked, possessed, and positively evil doll who stars in the upcoming horror flick, you have to learn about the people who discovered her, controversial real life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren.
The Warrens (who, in the Conjuring films and Annabelle Comes Home, are played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) were well known in paranormal circles and became celebrities due to their investigations of well known hauntings including the notorious Amityville Horror case and the Enfield Haunting which saw the pair head to England to solve the high profile mystery of a young family who claimed to be the victims of a nefarious poltergeist.
In 1952, the Warrens established the New England Society for Psychic Research which would become the hub of their ghost hunting activities. Together, the pair claimed to have investigated over 10,000 hauntings, possessions, and supernatural happenings. Though they wrote many books and previously had films like The Amityville Horror based off of their investigations, it's the story of the possessed doll known as Annabelle that has gripped the imaginations of contemporary audiences everywhere.
First introduced in The Conjuring, Annabelle originally just had a brief role in the film that launched one of the most successful horror franchises of all time but her haunting visage left audiences wanting more. In the series, the doll is a painted porcelain figure with a pale face and bright makeup, but in real life she's actually a simple vintage Raggedy Ann doll.
According to the Warrens, Annabelle first began wreaking havoc on the mortal world in 1970 after she was given as a gift to a 28 year old nurse, Donna, by her mother. At first all seemed well with the apparently benign yarn-haired toy, but soon the young woman and her roommate began to notice strange goings on, reporting that the doll would change positions, move around the house, and even left the girls terrifying messages written on strange paper that read, "Help me, help us."
The next chapter in the nightmarish legend of Annabelle came when Donna and her friends came home only to find the doll leaking blood. It was then that they reached out to a medium who informed them that the children's toy was possessed by the spirit of a young girl known as Annabelle Higgins. Supposedly the young girl had died on the property and was distressed with her fate, though according to the medium she'd found peace with the two young women and wanted to stay in the form of the doll and live alongside them. Convinced by the moving story, Donna gave the spirit permission to continue residing in the Raggedy Ann doll.
If you've seen The Conjuring, you'll know that's not where the story ended. After one of Donna's friends claimed to have been strangled by the doll, the Warrens became involved in the case. The investigators immediately saw something different from the medium, with Lorraine explaining that "an inhuman spirit" had attached itself to the object and was manipulating it in an attempt to find a human host. The Warrens took charge of the doll, building a special case to contain the vessel. Annabelle Comes Home is set in what is known by fans as "the artifact room," the basement filled with many of the spooky, haunted, and cursed items found at Warren's Occult Museum in Monroe, Connecticut, which is where the real Annabelle resides to this day.
The Occult Museum is open to visitors but you might want to consider how seriously you take the things that are kept there as one of the scariest stories that the Warrens often told (which has never been verified) was that of a young motorcyclist who visited the museum, mocking Annabelle and knocking on her case. His disrespect was apparently noted by the doll, as Ed and Lorraine claimed that after the man left the strange attraction he was knocked off his bike and killed. Whether or not you actually believe in the supernatural the story of Annabelle is enough to make you keep on your nightlight and donate your childhood dolls to your local thrift store.