Director James Wan changed the world of horror in 2013 with his supernatural thriller The Conjuring, giving audiences one of the best haunted house films of the decade. In addition to crafting a compelling story, the film's success spawned not just sequels, but also spin-offs, sequel spin-offs, and spin-off sequels.
Thanks to the films coming from Marvel Studios, audiences have come to expect their films to belong to a shared universe, knowing that characters in one film have sometimes tenuous, sometimes strong connections to other characters and events in seemingly unrelated movies.
The closest that horror fans got to
Coming to theaters this summer is Annabelle: Creation, a prequel to Annabelle, which was a spin-off of the original Conjuring.
“I think the idea always, right from the get-go, was to create a universe, but you don’t go out and tout that as being the goal,” Creation producer Peter Safran explained to ComingSoon. “You start off by just making one good movie. But the idea was certainly that using the Warrens’ life rights and access to their cases, that would be a really good starting point.”
Even more interesting, the iconic Annabelle doll almost wasn't included in the original Conjuring.
“It was actually James Wan who suggested putting Annabelle into the opening of the original Conjuring,” Safran explains. “It was not in the script when he came on board as director. After the first [Conjuring] came out, we had so much fan interest in Annabelle, both because she was already a well-known entity, but also I think people liked what we did with her in the first movie. A lot of people were really interested in her background, her origins, where she was and where she’s going.”
As far as having the "villain" of the film be a doll, director David F. Sandberg said that made for some interesting filmmaking challenges.
"The hard thing is that the doll is not supposed to move, so it’s hard working with that because you have this stationary object that’s supposed to be scary, so you have to move her when no one’s looking, like you look away, and you look back and she’s moved,” Sandberg revealed to Bloody Disgusting. “You can’t have her run around, you have like an evil glance suddenly, and then you sort of play with the forces around her, like Mrs. Mullins and some other stuff. She’s sort of just the vessel, the portal for evil.”
One advantage of crafting an entire shared horror universe is it allows you to travel forward and backward in time, helping fill the gaps in the shared narrative. Annabelle took place before The Conjuring, and now Creation goes back further than Annabelle.
The upcoming film takes place primarily at an orphanage, which, compared to Sandberg's film Lights Out, featured a set built specifically for him.
"Lights Out was all on location, so it was so fun to come here where you can take
As far as the period in which the film is set, he joked, “Well there’s no damn cell phones,” adding, “So they can’t call for help. It’s just creepier to have it in the past. I mean it’s not that far in the past, but just the aesthetics of it.”
Annabelle: Creation hits theaters August 11.
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