Steeped in paranormal lore, PKM’s Robyn Hale attended an advanced screening of Annabelle Comes Home in, of all places, Salem, Massachusetts. Ooooooooo, spooky! This horror film features the creepiest resident of the dollhouse, a creature so demon-possessed that Ed and Lorraine Warren, preeminent demonologists, recommended she be locked away. You can guess the rest…

Living in Salem, Massachusetts has its perks, especially if you are a fan of history and horror. Every weekend something spooky seems to be happening here in the Witch City, so when I read that the Salem Horror Fest was sponsoring an advanced screening of Annabelle Comes Home, with the Annabelle doll on display, I absolutely had to attend. Between my slight obsession with creepy dolls and my lifelong interest in the paranormal discoveries of Ed and Lorraine Warren, how could I possibly miss this?

The Warrens started their paranormal investigations in the 1940s, but it was not until the 1970s that they really came into the public eye. Wherever strange and bizarre activity occurred, the Warrens were always there. If you are familiar with any of the cases from The Conjuring movies, a Haunting in Connecticut, or the Amityville case, then you familiar with Ed and Lorraine Warren. Not only did they investigate the paranormal, they founded the New England Society for Psychic Research and the Warren Occult Museum in Monroe, Connecticut. Their museum in Monroe houses the largest array of obscure and haunted artifacts in the world. It’s also where Annabelle lives. And now she’s taking a trip up to Salem.

I immediately sat down and typed out a press inquiry with hopes I could get a few minutes alone with the doll. I seem to have a knack for detecting strange vibes and wanted to test my “spidey-sense” so to speak, to see if I could sense the evil on her. I also wanted to try to ask her a few questions via telepathy, like “Do you know the devil? If so, what’s he really like?” She most likely wouldn’t answer me, but maybe she would. Maybe she would.

Movie version of Annabelle

The day before the screening I finally got a reply that said a seat would be reserved for me, and the doll would be available for photos in the lobby. In the lobby? Shouldn’t the doll be kept in a private room? After all, the doll is haunted. Bad things are known to have happened around her. Are they really going to let people take selfies all willy-nilly with a doll that has been known to do harm? This seems a bit irresponsible. What if someone taps on the glass too hard and the glass cracks? This could be a potential nightmare, a horror movie within a horror movie. I don’t want to suffer the consequences because some asshole disrespected the doll.

Then I read three words that I seemed to have overlooked on the original press release – Courtesy of Warner Brothers.

Wait a minute, it’s the movie version of the doll not the real Annabelle.

Movie version of Annabelle

I arrived at the Salem Cinema at 10:25, thirty-five minutes before the show started because I didn’t know what to expect. People were in line getting snacks, but there was no line for Annabelle. I walked right up to her, snapped some photos, got some popcorn, and took my seat with 20 minutes to waste before the show started. I munched away on my popcorn and noticed a girl a few rows in front of me opening a bag of Sour Patch Kids. And now I want Sour Patch Kids. I should have gotten them instead of this popcorn. Sour Patch Kids or a box of Goobers, maybe some Junior Mints.

The small theater started to fill up as the minutes ticked down. To my surprise, a guy dressed as Captain Spaulding from the Rob Zombie Movies comes in and takes his seat with his equally gory girlfriend who’s face seemed to be graced by the hand of a slasher. I’m not a fan of clowns, but if I have to sit near one for the next hour and a half, at least it was Sid Haig’s version.

The next person I notice entering the theater was a woman clutching her own personal Annabelle doll a tad too close to her chest. It made me uncomfortable. I watched her take a seat a few rows ahead of me, and to my dismay, Annabelle not only had her own seat, she had her own popcorn. I wonder if she wished she had Sour Patch Kids too.

Finally, the lights went down and after previews for The Joker and It part 2 (more clowns), Anabelle Comes Home begins. Ed and Lorraine Warren are called in to investigate the case of a possibly possessed doll. After their assessment, and firsthand experience, they determine the doll is unsafe and it’s best if they take Annabelle home with them for safe keeping. Determined to keep Annabelle from wreaking more havoc, they decide to lock her up under sacred glass adorned with a sign that reads WARNING, POSITIVELY DO NOT OPEN. And there, amongst the rest of the Warren’s haunted and cursed artifacts, Annabelle will spend her days.

Things were fine at first but, of course, someone starts poking around where they shouldn’t, and when the doll awakens the room’s evil spirits, it soon becomes an unholy night of terror for the couple’s 10-year-old daughter, her babysitter, and her friends.

And now I want Sour Patch Kids. I should have gotten them instead of this popcorn. Sour Patch Kids or a box of Goobers, maybe some Junior Mints.

I don’t want to say too much for fear of giving anything away, but even though I didn’t get to meet the real doll, Annabelle Comes Home was still pretty good. If you’ve read The Demonologist: The Extraordinary Career of Ed & Lorraine Warren by Gerald Brittle, you’ll recognize a few of the other haunted artifacts that flicker in and out of this film. Annabelle Comes Home is filled with all the familiar frights that you would expect from the Conjuring Universe without being too over the top or unbelievable. It also had a few laughs, which surprised me. I guess you have to balance out the fright with some funny, and it worked in this case.

Annabelle Comes Home was dedicated to Lorraine Warren who sadly passed away on April 18, 2019. But there’s still hope for me and the real Annabelle. On August 10, 2019, the New England Society for Psychic Research is hosting an Evening with Annabelle & Mysterious Items of the Occult at a top-secret location in Connecticut. Visit more information. Maybe I’ll see you there.

The real Annabelle doll

An interview with Lorraine Warren:

“The threat of evil is ever present….

We can contain it as long as we stay vigilant, but it can never truly be destroyed.”

~Lorraine Warren